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VMS to integrate AI and drone technology for enhanced airborne object detection

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VMS to integrate AI and drone technology for enhanced airborne object detection. Image: Pixabay
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Glasgow-based Visual Management Systems (VMS), a leading provider of bespoke Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) solutions, is working on a collaborative project with the University of Leicester. The project, funded by the national SPRINT business support programme, will help VMS to integrate Artificial Intelligence and drone technology to develop a new PSIM solution for enhanced airborne object detection.

The University of Leicester will support VMS with a pioneering approach to machine learning algorithms. The project will enable VMS to build AI into a drone that can send alerts to flag up potential issues and provide high quality airborne images for operators to check. This can benefit organisations using security systems and applications including fence security, and search and rescue at sea. Future developments may include a satellite deployed solution that will integrate intelligence from ground-based systems, drones and orbital platforms.

The project is funded by a grant from the £4.8 million SPRINT (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology) programme that provides unprecedented access to university space expertise and facilities. SPRINT helps businesses through the commercial exploitation of space data and technologies.

Jay Shields, Managing Director of Visual Management Systems said: “We initially had a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University of Leicester and have jointly worked on the development of a facial recognition platform. Through the SPRINT programme, we gain access to the superior R&D facilities at the University of Leicester, offering a degree of resource that we couldn’t naturally afford as a small company.

“The University is very good at thinking and creating, and through this collaborative partnership, VMS can bring a thorough understanding of the marketplace, product and delivery. The learning from the University will be invaluable. The support from SPRINT is significant as it brings credibility and risk reduction, and for small businesses such as VMS, can enable us to see a Return on Investment far quicker.”

Ivan Tyukin, Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Leicester added: “The challenge set to us by VMS was how to fit an object detection system within a portable, mobile platform such as a drone. The system needs to cope with uncertainties and varying operational conditions resulting in a broad variability of scales and image intensities, and we also needed to avoid the system sending false alarms that the operator then has to check, using cameras or sending patrol cars to search.”

Air Freight

Etihad Cargo deploys cargo-only boeing 787s to complement freighter fleet and ensure continuity of UAE and global key trade lanes

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Etihad Cargo deploys cargo-only boeing 787s to complement freighter fleet and ensure continuity of UAE and global key trade lanes. Image: Eithad Cargo
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Carrier will tweak its freighter network to adjust to passenger suspension Launches passenger freighter network in line with the current environment to ensure continuity

Following the directive issued by the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, and the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the United Arab Emirates to temporarily suspend all passenger services to and from the UAE, Etihad Cargo continues to play a vital role in connecting key cargo markets and ensuring the UAE’s import and export needs are adequately covered in line with current demand.

To complement its fleet of Boeing 777 Freighters, Etihad Cargo is introducing a fleet of Boeing 787-10 aircraft as passenger freighters to operate 34 weekly flights, serving 10 markets initially. Each aircraft will provide capacity for 12 Lower deck pallets and four containers, carrying up to 45 tons of payload.

The passenger freighter network will introduce capacity, subject to permits, into India, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, South Korea and other places where borders remain open for cargo. On top of that, the current freighter schedule will be enhanced by additional flights into Riyadh, London, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

By utilising the Boeing 787 in addition to its freighter fleet, Etihad Cargo will ensure the continuity of vital imports into the UAE including fruits, vegetables, meat, medical supplies, mail and ecommerce.

Abdulla Mohamed Shadid, Managing Director Cargo and Logistics at Etihad Aviation Group, said: “As the national carrier to the UAE, Etihad is working closely with the UAE government to ensure the country is well served and the needs of the people residing in the UAE are unaffected, while continuing to play our role as a facilitator of global trade between the East and the West.”

“In the current environment and as per our leadership’s guidance, it is essential these trade lanes remain open, and with the addition on this capacity we are able to serve those constrained markets that face decreased passenger freight operations, offering a strategic cargo lifeline and supporting the continuity of the global trade ecosystem.”

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Air Freight

First passenger aircraft full of air cargo lands in Frankfurt

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First passenger aircraft full of air cargo lands in Frankfurt. Image: Luftansa Cargo
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LH729 from Shanghai flies mainly medical goods to Germany

Loaded with around 30 tons of freight, a Lufthansa passenger aircraft landed in Frankfurt after a flight time of 11 hours and 6 minutes. In addition to the cargo compartments of the Airbus A330, the cabin including the stowage compartments above the seats was also loaded. On board the aircraft with the registration number D-AIKI were various highly urgent goods, mainly from the medical sector, including masks and other protective equipment. The required permits for the flight were issued in excellent cooperation with the foreign ministries and embassies of the People’s Republic of China and the Federal Republic of Germany.

Lufthansa Cargo is making every effort to strengthen security of supply by air. About half of the goods are normally transported in freighters, the other half in the bellies of passenger aircraft. Due to the far-reaching cancellations of passenger connections, valuable airfreight capacity is lacking. The Lufthansa Group and Lufthansa Cargo are therefore looking into the possibility of operating further flights exclusively for cargo transport on passenger aircraft.

Especially in emergency and crisis situations, logistics and airfreight are of particular importance. In addition to urgent spare and machine parts, mainly sensitive pharmaceuticals and fresh goods are transported intercontinental by air. A Boeing 777F freighter has a standard load capacity of 103 tons.

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Air Freight

Heathrow calls on industry to use available capacity in fight against COVID-19

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Heathrow calls on industry to use available capacity in fight against COVID-19. Image: Heathrow Airport
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Heathrow will be stepping up its cargo capabilities as it calls on more airlines and freight companies to maximise the use of the hub airport’s quieter schedule so that the aviation industry can play its part in the economic and social fight against COVID-19. Air freight will keep vital supply lines open and help to get time-critical and temperature-sensitive goods, such as medical supplies and food across the UK as the country pulls together to battle this pandemic.

Logistics companies have already begun playing a key role in this fight, by importing COVID-19 testing kits via Heathrow, in preparation for increased demand. Next week, Heathrow’s cargo movements are forecast to increase by 53%, as more airlines and freighters use the available capacity to transport goods which will assist in the fight against coronavirus. This figure is set to increase further as the airport scales up its cargo operation. Pharmaceutical products are one of Heathrow’s top imports, with the airport handling 41% of the UK’s pharmaceutical imports (by value). In 2019, over 12,000 tonnes of medical supplies such as medicines, vaccines, sanitisers, syringes and respirators travelled through Heathrow.

During normal operations, Heathrow is the UK’s largest port by value. 34% of the country’s cargo travels through the airport, with the majority of that cargo (95%) being carried in the belly hold of passenger planes. Whilst passenger travel remains restricted for many, airports will continue to play a key role in keeping the UK’s supply chain alive, for both essential workers and goods. This is why Heathrow will be repurposing its operation and scaling up its cargo offering at this difficult time.

Heathrow is also taking a number of steps to assist the airline industry during this challenging time. These steps include supporting slot alleviation – a relaxation of the rules requiring airlines to use their slots to keep them, offering free parking to aircraft grounded as a result of COVID-19 and bringing forward growth incentive payments which have helped to increase cashflow for airlines during a challenging time for the sector.

Before becoming a civilian airport in 1946, Heathrow was one of the country’s military airfields. The aerodrome served military aircraft bound for the Far East, helping to transport troops, supplies and care packages. Now that the country works to battle the coronavirus pandemic, the airport will support the nation once again by helping the country to receive testing kits, protection equipment and crucial machinery such as respirators, as the UK works to overcome the outbreak.

Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye, said: “This is an unprecedented time for the international community, with COVID-19 requiring us all to work together, adapt and adopt extraordinary measures to quell the spread of this virus. For the first time in a decade, our airport has additional capacity in its schedule, capacity which we’ve begun to see used to help push vital supplies across the globe to help support frontline teams in the battle against this pandemic.

“We stand ready to support the country through this crisis. Our intention is to remain open at all times to serve those passenger flights that will continue to operate. And as the UK’s biggest port, we will temporarily increase the number of dedicated cargo flights. These will bring in vital supplies of food and medical equipment to help Britain weather this storm.”

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