Pittsburgh International Airport’s (PIT’s) xBridge innovation center is expanding to facilitate the growth and refinement of technological innovations from budding start-ups.

The solutions that are being tested in this invaluable space not only help maximize customer satisfaction and operations within an airport environment itself but could enable technological developments for safety-focused air quality monitoring for worldwide industrial facilities. 

Earlier this year, Honeywell and PIT entered into a partnership to develop a live dashboard measuring air quality at PIT’s xBridge center. Recently, three companies–Carnegie Robotics, RE2 Robotics, and Zensors–joined Honeywell in selecting xBridge to test and develop their products. 

 

PIT’s xBridge

An innovation center provides a safe and technologically diverse network for individuals to come together from different time zones and continents to develop new ideas and prototypes. 

 

xbridge

Senior Vice President of Information Technology at the Allegheny County Airport Authority, Katherine Karolick, is driving PIT’s xBridge project forward. Image used courtesy of PIT

 

PIT’s xBridge center covers 10,000-square-feet  and is custom-built  to foster the growth of the aviation industry and help with the incubation of new ideas that may provide a solution to challenges the industry faces. 

“During a time of crisis, innovation is imperative,” said Katherine Karolick, Senior Vice President of Information Technology at PIT.

In the same news release, Karolick also said that “reducing costs, increasing efficiencies and developing improved passenger and staff safety measures are all key. Small, specialized tech companies and startups have a deep understanding in emerging technology, are nimble, and are experts at working in an innovation model.”

 

RE2 Robotics Joins PIT as Latest Partner

Zensors began work at the airport in 2019, when they developed and set up an artificial intelligence system to calculate wait times in real-time. 

They used specially designed cameras and placed them around the security checkpoint. Since this work, the company wishes to return to xBridge and develop other applications. 

Carnegie Robotics had also conducted its work with PIT last year and developed autonomous, self-driving robotic floor scrubbers with UV light. This was a first for mobile disinfection in U.S. airports. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals have been overloaded with patients. As a result, testing of mobile robots in this environment has been difficult to implement. The xBridge center provided Carnegie Robotics with the ideal environment to test, re-develop, and generate a commercially viable model of the robotic floor scrubbers. 

The newest PIT partner, RE2 Robotics has been developing robotic solutions for fefense, energy, aviation, and medical markets for close to 20 years. 

 

Engineers at Carnegie Robotics developing robotic solutions for the Bridge project. image used courtesy of Carnegie Robotics

 

The company specializes in the development of intelligent mobile manipulation systems. RE2 has created cutting-edge robotic arms that are suited to outdoor applications including hazardous material handling, aircraft maintenance, and autonomous casualty evacuation. 

The company has also developed robotic arms for use in underwater environments. The CEO of RE2, Jorgen Pedersen, provided his comments regarding the opportunity to use the xBridge center, “In order to validate our technical solutions, we need access to a real-world environment where we can gather data, we can make observations, understand operational flow, and make informed decisions during the design process.”

 

Honeywell’s Air Quality Measurement Dashboard

Honeywell will continue to develop a live dashboard measuring air quality at the xBridge innovation center. For a variety of industries, from cement, oil and gas, pharmaceutical, to food and beverage, air quality is of great importance. 

The quality of the air within manufacturing facilities can have a direct effect on the health of workers. Air quality can also affect the quality of products on the production line, pollution of the surrounding environment, and process improvement. 

Components contributing to poor air quality include gas emissions, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulate matter, and chemicals. There are several types of air quality measurement sensors that manufacturing facilities and factories can use to monitor air quality.

These include metal oxide sensors, photoionization sensors, optical and electrochemical sensors. 

Depending on the facility, a particular sensor type is used with accompanying software to monitor and analyze data collected. Air quality monitoring systems also include an HVAC system and display. 

 

 

The Honeywell Healthy Buildings dashboard at xBridge is designed to help staff at PIT identify any changes to air quality in real-time so that they can be dealt with in the most efficient manner possible. 

The dashboard is connected to sensors and is also integrated into the airport’s existing systems. It gives facilities workers the ability to identify critical building issues and correct them in good time. 

During the pandemic, the dashboard may be used to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect passengers, and staff. Depending on the success of the pilot systems, PIT may choose to further employ the technology throughout the airport. 


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