Last month, Daher launched a hackathon event aimed at challenging innovators to develop computing capabilities, artificial intelligence processes and other software that could further improve its TBM family of turboprop-powered general aviation aircraft.
Called the “General Aviathon,” the event is the creation of Daher’s Silicon Valley-based innovation program – Armstrong by Daher – and tailored for students (and potentially early-stage start-ups), with a primary focus on the greater San Francisco bay area of California.
“Armstrong by Daher is tasked with accelerating our parent company’s digital transformation, and there is no better way than harnessing Silicon Valley’s imagination and capability for a future transformation of the TBM aircraft,” explained Florent François, the head of Digital Strategy at Daher, and one of two company executives overseeing the Armstrong by Daher innovation program.
The General Aviathon had two themes: advanced features and capabilities to make TBM aircraft more autonomous, intelligent and connected; and innovative standards to further refine the experience of piloting and using the TBM.
Cédric Eloy, Daher’s head of Innovation Strategy, said participants in the General Aviathon benefited from the expertise of mentors, who were available for tutoring on the TBM’s operational and system aspects, and also provided insights into airplane’s use from the pilot and passenger perspectives.
Examples of topics covered in the hackathon’s advanced features and capabilities theme were: how can the TBM be improved with embedded artificial intelligence; what kind of vocal assistant could be relevant to its pilots; how the TBM can be given real-time computing capacity that is compatible with aviation standards; and which technologies would improve the aircraft’s performance.
For the experience theme, possible areas of interest included new services to be offered with Daher’s Me & My TBM cloud-based application, improvements in the customer experience (such as pre-flight and post-flight logistics), and enhancements to the TBM’s comfort management.
During the hackathon process, the teams went through initial proposal and mid-term report phases, supported by webinars. After a final report, the number of teams was reduced to undergo a test and presentation phase, followed by the second down-selection for a final “pitch contest” and determination of the winners – who will highlight their winning submission at the 2019 NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition in Las Vegas, Nevada in October.
Winners of the General Aviathon will received a cash prize of $5,000, with the potential to partner with Daher in deploying their solution if relevant and applicable.