SkyGrid aerial operation system
What is SkyGrid?
Boeing's SkyGrid AI aims to provide automated aerial management system for drones and other unmanned aircraft. SkyGrid provides complete aerial, regulatory, and vehicle-related data to the AI, which can in turn allow users to execute many kinds of missions. The goal is to be safe, and real-time.
SkyGrid AI should automate aerial traffic, and allow each vehicle to be aware of other vehicles, area conditions, and its own conditions.
Back in June 2019, SkyGrid AI was in an early phase figuring out exact what to serve to potential customers. SkyGrid launched its first product to the public in September 2020. During this time frame, I did research on customer needs, competitor offerings, and created conceptual wireframes, and later high-fidelity interface that eventually was launched in the product.
The SkyGrid AI is designed based on many of our conversations with our users.
Understanding customer needs
Getting to know customers was an essential step when designing a product. In the early days, SkyGrid talked with many potential enterprise customers to understand their needs in potentially utilizing aerial operations as part of their businesses. One potential customer, which is a multinational shipping company, was invited to the SkyGrid office. We got to know their needs and here are some what I got.
Multinational shipping company
This enterprise customer needs to make different types of deliveries by the millions daily. Currently, many delivery drivers deliver the packages to the final customer. Utilizing drones would reduce the need for drivers, and reduce the costs significantly. We’ve understood how this customer thinks drones can be utilized in their operations.
Happy path workflow - suburban last mile
Below shows a simple workflow that utilizes a drone to delivery a good from a distribution center to a household. It is a happy path that assumes all conditions are favorable, and is meant to show what parties are involved in this simple operation.
Final household customer can select up to 3 landing zones
Central operation verifies route, launch location, delivery area, vehicle health
Delivery manager can create or review delivery routes, including stops
SkyGrid sends routes to central operation and drivers
Driver verifies launch location, vehicle health, package
Vehicle flies to delivery location
Verifies delivery location
Delivers good, captures delivery area
Distribution center loads packages and verifies packages are acceptable for drone delivery
Major use cases
Launch the mission from delivery trucks or sort centers, load packages onto drones, and deliver packages to households.
Load packages to airports
Launch the mission from UPS centers, load the packages onto drones, then land the drones at designated locations in airports. The staff will then load the packages into airplanes.
What they need from us
Ability to identify optimized delivery routes with all environmental factors considered.
Give the user a few route options, and give a risk score of each route option.
Ability to check regulatory compliance of package dimensions and weight, verify if a package can be sent via drone delivery, or truck delivery.
Identifying the best routes
SkyGrid AI's main expertise is identifying the best flying route options for our customers. A user can simply enter a starting point, a destination on our map, and we will provide some optimized route options. Our AI takes many factors into account when coming up with optimized routes, including:
SkyGrid AI provides all the environmental conditions of any area to the user, giving the user a complete picture of the environement.