NYU Abu Dhabi partners with Etihad Cargo for innovative airline cargo logistics course

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NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) partnered with Etihad Cargo for a unique intensive four-week summer course, Driving Genius,  to look at how different aspects of robotics, programming, and design principles can help to develop solutions aimed at the airline cargo industry.

“It’s about establishing a partnership where students gain everything they would from a traditional course including the opportunity to test their models in the real-world ‘laboratory’ of the organization,” said Christian Grewell, partner in the Program on Creativity + Innovation, and professor of interactive media arts at NYU Shanghai, who led the summer course at NYUAD.

“When Etihad engaged with us, they engaged across every function of their business and at various levels in the organization. We came up with ideas for people not just in executive positions, but in-line level operational roles. That’s an invaluable experience for students when combined with the work we do in the lab and classroom.”

Students were given access to Etihad Cargo’s warehouse operations in order to develop an understanding of how things work and to be able to identify processes where efficiencies could potentially be improved. They were then split into three groups and tasked with designing and developing feasible tailor-made solutions using virtual technology.

At the end of the four weeks, students presented four prototypes to Etihad Cargo’s senior vice president David Kerr and head of cargo handling, Robert Fordee. The prototypes were: Cargie, a load-carrying robot capable of machine learning; Paper Trail, an app to track airway bills and cargo documents; Viz360, a virtual training app; and HoloCargo, a 3D scanning and virtual reality system that can help loadmasters build pallets of boxes in a 3D environment.