The Art of Intelligence in Digital Towers
An article by Marco Rueckert, Vice President, Technology, Searidge Technologies
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Artificial Intelligence (AI) may often be described as disruptive technology, but there are some real, practical ways in which it’s helping transform how the aviation industry works – especially when it comes to improving efficiency, safety, and resilience.
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With Digital Towers, AI plays a significant role in levering digital technologies to enhance airport and airspace operations. Using a combination of sensors, cameras, data analytics and AI algorithms, we’re able to provide air traffic controllers with a comprehensive view of the airport and surrounding airspace, making the operation safer, more flexible and efficient.
Aimee is Searidge Technologies’ advanced neural network framework for the development of AI-based solutions for ATM and airport efficiency. Aimee has been developed to aid air traffic controllers and airport operators in managing runway arrival spacing, improving capacity in poor weather conditions, and even monitoring radio transmission from pilots and highlighting errors.
But what does this mean in practice? With three key functional areas; Computer Vision, Natural Language Processing and Flight & Surveillance Data Processing, Aimee learns from historic and scheduled operational data to improve the overall airport operation.
This comes into play at Heathrow where Aimee’s AI technology is being trialled with the aim to help controllers tackle a reduction in landing capacity due to limited visibility from the tower cab – Tower in the Cloud.
AIMEE can potentially provide an extra 20% landing capacity on low visibility days.
Paired with a network of 4K cameras positioned at select runway exit point, Aimee has learnt to recognise when all extremities of an aircraft have safely left the runway – potentially giving back the operation an extra 20% landing capacity on low visibility days.
Aimee can also advise on Stand Management plans, using flight plans, radar, weather and ground handling information to advise controllers.
Unlike for some other industries, technology systems in safety-critical industries, such as the Air Traffic Management and Airport operations Industries, must be proven to be safe and reliable. Before any technology system, including an AI-powered system, can be operationally deployed in these industries, it must be proven to be safe and approved by the responsible regulatory authority.
Searidge and NATS have been pioneering the application of AI technologies in aviation by working together with globally leading ANSP and airport customers and engaging the responsible regulators in a collaborative technology system delivery approach.
Other ways AI is utilised in Digital Towers:
The real transformative power of Digital Towers lies in using AI to augment and improve an existing operation in order to solve a specific problem or challenge, whether that’s the need to reduce costs, incorporate new ground-based infrastructure, or provide a contingency facility.
Digital Towers are transforming the way air traffic is controlled, and the implementation of AI in Digital Towers aims to enhance safety, increase efficiency, and improve the overall management of air traffic. It is an example of how AI is transforming various industries by providing advanced data analytics and decision support tools.
The possibilities with AI are truly endless.