Project Wayfinder Wins 2020 AUVSI XCELLENCE Award for Its Outstanding Efforts Towards Creating Unmanned Systems

The Project Wayfinder team is no stranger to hard work. We’ve been working steadily over the summer to iterate and test our technology in Acubed’s newly developed Flight Test Lab, each flight resulting in learnings that will ultimately help make Airbus’ vision for another step change in safety to come to life. While praise is never the intent of our efforts, positive recognition certainly makes the long days worthwhile.

Today we are proud to share the news that Project Wayfinder was named the second place winner in the Technology and Software category of the Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International (AUVSI)’s XCELLENCE Awards!

While it’s an honor to be recognized, it’s especially meaningful coming from AUVSI, the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of unmanned systems and robotics. The annual XCELLENCE Awards honor innovators with a demonstrated commitment to advancing autonomy, leading and promoting safe adoption of unmanned systems and developing programs that use these technologies to save lives and improve the human condition.

In our application, we focused primarily on what we believe are the four most important “whats” of Project Wayfinder:

  • What is Project Wayfinder?
  • What problem does it solve?
  • What market needs does it address?
  • What is the goal of the technology?

Let’s walk through each:

What is Project Wayfinder? Project Wayfinder is building scalable, certifiable autonomy systems for future commercial aircraft. Using image recognition, machine learning and deep learning neural networks, Wayfinder’s technology will allow aircraft to perceive and react to their environments for taxiing, takeoff and landing, through functions ranging from navigation to collision avoidance.

What problem does it solve? Before COVID-19 hit, airlines were facing a pilot shortage. Despite the pandemic’s current impact on the industry, we anticipate that the demand for air travel will return to pre-COVID levels, meaning that the industry will need to recruit thousands of pilots in the years ahead. Similarly, the emerging Urban Air Mobility (UAM) industry will also require hundreds of thousands of additional certified pilots to scale. We believe that self-piloted urban aircraft and more autonomous aircraft can bridge the gap created by these trends.

What market need does it address? Much of Project Wayfinder’s efforts center around helping commercial aircraft make the leap from automation to autonomy. Current generation aircraft rely on the pilot for the majority of responses to unforeseen events. Our technology allows us to observe the work of experienced pilots and aggregate this data to train our machine learning models, enabling Wayfinder’s AI system to eventually augment the abilities of human pilots. This brings to life the business case of urban mobility and eases the strain put on pilots already in the field.

What is the goal of Project Wayfinder’s technology? While we’re focused on autonomy, it’s not the sole purpose of our thesis. Rather, we’re looking bigger picture and working towards improving air traffic management, enhancing future operations and providing a safer experience – all of which are other significant challenges that remain on the horizon.

Project Wayfinder was selected from a pool of accomplished applicants all eager to share the fruits of their labor, and we’re honored to have been considered alongside each. Brian Wynne, president and CEO of AUVSI, stated that "the XCELLENCE awards recognize companies and individuals who are achieving remarkable results with unmanned systems technology to benefit our communities,” and we’re proud to be recognized for our ongoing efforts to create these beneficial systems.

- Arne Stoschek