The ceremony was held at the headquarters of the Italian Space Agency during the awarding of the Telespazio 2019 Innovation Award, in the presence of Telespazio’s CEO, Luigi Pasquali, and of the Managers for Human Resources and Organization, Maurizio Corselli, and Innovation and Technological Governance, Marco Brancati.
The Telespazio Technology Contest is an initiative addressed to students, graduate students and researchers from the main Italian university departments that collaborate with the company on innovative technological issues for the aeronautical and space sector.
Among the numerous proposals received, the winners were:
• Category: Insight – “SPIRAL: low-thrust orbital hopping techniques for "on-orbit servicing"”, submitted by a team from the Polytechnic of Milan – Aerospace Science and Technology Department made up of Jacopo Prinetto, Stefano Silvestrini and Andrea Capannolo.
Description: The proposal consists in the development of an algorithm that, by exploiting a Low-Thrust "shape-based" optimization method, is able to plan on-orbit servicing missions in complex scenarios with multiple target satellites on different orbits. The algorithm must be able to automatically select the maximum number of ‘servable’ targets and their optimal sequence. Technical-operational constraints will be included directly in the optimization algorithm.
• Category: Voyager – “The Quantum Switch: enabling Noiseless Quantum communications for CyberSecurity Appliations”, submitted by a team from the “Federico II” University of Naples – Electrical Engineering and Information Technology Department and “E. Pancini” Physics Department made up of Marcello Caleffi, Angela Sara Cacciapuoti, Vincenzo D'Ambrosio and Carlo Forestiere.
Description: The proposal intends to demonstrate the advantages of an innovative quantum device in the terrestrial and / or satellite Quantum Communications environment: the Quantum Switch. This device looks very promising for Cybersecurity applications. solves the vulnerability issues of the wired infrastructure, solves various problems that characterize the current techniques of Quantum Communications in ground free-space and contrasts the vulnerability of current Quantum Key Distribution techniques.
• Category: Opportunity – “D-RICE (Drone-RICE): Drones for the collection and analysis of rice samples for time and cost optimisation”, submitted by a team from the Polytechnic of Turin – Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department and SDA Bocconi/SEElab made up of Serena Sette, Luca Deva, Luca Guerra, Luca Patrioli and Aristea Saputo.
Description: D-RICE consists in the use of a drone, or a formation of drones, for the "in situ" measurement of the humidity rate of the rice cultivation in the maturation phase. The analysis of the moisture content of the sample is aimed at identifying the optimal harvesting period, thus reducing the time, costs and emissions associated with the drying process. The drone operates autonomously to reach the areas of interest, collects and analyses a sample. The data is processed and transmitted in real-time to the user, for the entire duration of the rice field monitoring session.
The winners in the three categories will be automatically admitted to the INNOVATHON event, in which the participants, divided into teams, will realize a project and will have to take care of its technical and economic aspects.
The committee has also selected three proposals which, despite not having won the category prize, were considered interesting and worthy of a special mention:
• “Early Warning System for flooding due to Tropical Cyclones”, submitted by a team from “La Sapienza” University of Rome – DICEA/CERSITES Department made up of Francesco Cioffi, Mario Giannini, Tommaso Lapini, Sergio Pirozzoli and Lorenzo Tieghi.
Description: The objective of this proposal is to develop an alert system for the forecast from 3 to 5 days of floods produced by tropical cyclones (CT). Innovation consists in the development of a physically-based model of CT attributes transformation into spatial and temporal precipitation patterns, which integrates satellite precipitation data to correct discrepancies with the theoretical model; and a model of precipitation transformation into floods based on artificial intelligence techniques.
• “Structural Monitoring And InfrastRucture InspecTion in challenging SCenariOs by multi-UAV cooperaTion - SMART SCOUT”, submitted by a team from the “Federico II” University of Naples – Industrial Engineering Department made up of Flavia Causa and Giancarmine Fasano.
Description: The SMART-SCOUT project aims at enabling enhanced inspection of buildings and infrastructures with highly autonomous cooperative UAVs, and aims at developing and demonstrating in flight guidance, navigation and planning techniques for the UAVs to fulfil the mission needs, overcoming the navigation limitations, and providing a very accurate service for mapping and inspection.
• “Autonomous Ground System Network”, submitted by a team from the Polytechnic of Turin – Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department made up of Lorenzo Maria Gagliardini, Gabriel Maiolini Capez and Antonio Esposito.
Description: The proposed communication platform is able to autonomously reconfigure the communication parameters based on the mission to operate. A further aspect is the Fault Detection & Identification system aimed at highlighting and isolating anomalies through Genetic Algorithms, Traditional Algorithms and Machine-Learning. Innovation is brought by a system of prioritization of alerts, which allows a remote response that mitigates the latency due to the absence of the operator from the control location.
The award ceremony was managed by the RAI TG2 journalist Giorgio Pacifici.