EEMCS-student team presents wireless switches to Airbus

A TU Delft student team is going to Airbus in Toulouse to develop their proposal of wireless switches for passenger carriers. They are among the 7 finalists from 284 entries.

Look, no wires between switch and reading light, with Sujay Narayana (left) and Niels Hokke. (Photo: Jos Wassink)

Update: The team won the Airbus competition!

The Airbus Fly Your Ideas competition challenges students worldwide to innovate the future of aerospace. This year’s edition focuses on using digital technologies to create smart solutions.

The TU Delft team called ‘The Zero Heroes’ has developed a wireless switch that harvests its power from the mechanical energy that a passenger provides as she presses the button.

Inside the switch box, there is a magnet and a coil. Every time the button is pressed, the magnet rotates 180 degrees and generates a short blip of current in the coil. That tiny bit of energy suffices to power an electronic circuit that sends a packet of information to the central system.

Every passenger seat in an aircraft has a number of switches with several functions: light, flight attendant, and selection of the entertainment system. Altogether, these switches feed into large and heavy wire harnesses.

A wireless switch could do away with a large part of the cables. Plus, they could be inserted as sensors into seats, tables, safety belts, and reclining backrests. The crew would be able to monitor hundreds of seats with a single view on a monitor, for example when the seatbelts need to be attached.

Good idea, but what happens if hundreds of passengers trigger the seatbelt switch simultaneously? How do you make sure that the system registers every single seat?

Master student Niels Hokke gets excited when he explains the group’s solutions. Subdividing the frequency band into multiple channels increases the number of signals that the system can handle simultaneously. Plus, the switches can be programmed to wait until the channel is free before sending their message.

The team will be in Toulouse from 23 to 28 June 2019, where they will be working with Airbus engineers on their innovation. At the end of the week, up to 6 finalist teams will present their ideas to a jury of Airbus and industry experts for a chance to win a share of the €45,000 prize fund to take their idea forward within the industry.

Watch the team’s video: