How CITM’s innovation challenge winner, Aéroport AI is revolutionizing the aviation industry
Air travel and transportation are essential for our world to stay connected. Unfortunately, it contributes to the growing concern of climate change. Transport Canada’s report, Canada’s Aviation Climate Action Plan for 2022-2030 revealed that Canadian aviation contributed approximately 22 Megatons (Mt) of CO2 emissions in 2019. This represents a significant volume of emissions released into the environment. Airplane emissions are not the only factor raising sustainability concerns, but the overall inefficiencies throughout typical airport operations only further enhance the issue.
How can we make airports more efficient and sustainable? That’s where Aéroport AI’s innovative technology comes into play.
Aéroport AI was founded to optimize airside operations management by leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. The team developed AI software to reduce the costs associated with flight delays, mitigate ground handling risks, and minimize CO2 emissions. This cutting-edge technology leverages existing ramp and jet bridge cameras to offer solutions that enhance overall efficiency. It does so by analyzing real-time airport scenarios to better align timelines and established standards as well as provide delay alerts, timing predictions, and risk notifications to speed up turnaround.
Established in 2021 by Zhenglin (ZX) Xiong in Montreal, Quebec, Aéroport AI has since expanded its presence into Ontario. As a traveler himself, Xiong saw an opportunity to improve airport efficiency, reduce delays, and most importantly, improve safety and carbon emissions. “The room for improvement is huge,” says Xiong. “I believe that Aéroport AI’s technology can help accelerate Canada’s pursuit to lower CO2 emissions and achieve its sustainability targets.”
Xiong’s journey into Ontario began when he first encountered the Innovation Challenge Program hosted by the transportation-focused business accelerator, the Centre for Integrated Mobility and Transportation (CITM) at Innovation Factory (iF).
Backed by the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN), CITM’s Innovation Challenge Program serves as a bridge, connecting leading corporations with innovative startups to introduce disruptive solutions to the market. The program offers unique access to a dynamic network of accelerators, government agencies, academia, and private corporations, and is designed to contribute to economic growth within Ontario and Canada’s transportation and mobility sector.
In 2022, CITM launched its fall Innovation Challenge in collaboration with Nokia, a B2B technology innovation leader in networking, and Naryant (formerly known as Inovex), a data strategy and custom software solutions company. The ‘Multimodal Freight Challenge,’ sought solutions to enhance the safety of personnel at ports, airports, distribution centers, and other freight-handling points, including vehicle operators and other staff. Aéroport AI’s solution perfectly aligned with these challenges, earning them the winning position and a collaborative partnership with Nokia.
Richard Dunda, the Director of CITM, shares, “The Innovation Challenge Program connected Aéroport AI to key decision-makers at Nokia, both in Canada and Europe, leading to a potential partnership as a sales channel for Aéroport AI and a channel solution partner for Nokia.”
Aéroport AI’s technology is already available and operational in 15 international airports worldwide and the team is currently exploring potential collaborations with airports in Ontario. As the technology continues to disrupt the industry, Xiong expresses his gratitude for the support received, sharing, “CITM and Innovation Factory have opened up numerous opportunities for us and have allowed us, as clients, to realize our full potential.”
The Aéroport AI team’s unshakable belief in their technology has been a driving force behind their success. Xiong sums it up, saying, “We aim to create the best tool for optimizing solutions in airports worldwide. Specifically, in this industry, we aspire to bring innovation and intelligent solutions to enhance efficiency and the quality-of-service airports can offer to their customers.”
Aéroport AI’s journey highlights the importance of investing in emerging technologies that can help create a significant impact. It is also a great indication of the growing ecosystem within Ontario. In the years ahead, we can look forward to more success stories like Aéroport AI, where visionaries and industry leaders come together through CITM’s Innovation Challenges to drive progress and shape a brighter, more sustainable future for transportation and beyond.