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New Aviation And Aerospace Research Lab Open At Auburn University

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Auburn University recently launched a new Aviation and Aerospace ID Lab that will focus on emerging technologies to provide supply chain solutions for the two industries.

The new lab aims to promote the implementation of serialized identification technologies in helping the aviation and aerospace industries better track everything from passenger cargo, safety equipment, catering carts and maintenance history on commercial flights to various other inventory sent into space and returned to Earth.

“All of the experiments and tests conducted by the lab will provide concrete, scientific evidence that the technology can cut cost, improve safety and enhance efficiencies of businesses and government organizations today,” said Tom Rogers, the managing director of the Aviation and Aerospace ID Lab, a former pilot and a 2012 alumnus of Auburn. “It is about proving that the technology will deliver a strong return on investment.”

The new lab is a component of Auburn’s Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, Lab that also focuses on the areas of retail, supply chain and manufacturing. RFID refers to technologies that use radio waves to identify products and objects. As part of an RFID system, RFID inlays and tags can be easily scanned via RFID readers within a close proximity as well as in extended distance of several meters. Data from large quantities of inventory, for example, can be summarized all at once, recording literally hundreds of items in just seconds.

Beyond RFID technology, the new aerospace and aviation lab will conduct research involving all types of sensor technology — to include Bluetooth and low energy computer vision.

“There are just a lot of applications for the technology in both the commercial aviation and aerospace sectors,” Rogers said, noting that the goal is to guide future advancements through public-private partnership, with a core purpose of identifying uses and applications for market-ready emerging technologies and determining their real-world business value.

“We are seeking to bridge the gap between industry and academia, being focused on the business case and technical implementation of RFID and other emerging sensor technologies.”

In addition to industry partners and national leaders driving sensor technology adoption, the Aviation and Aerospace ID Lab will also work closely with Auburn professors and students through hands-on, in-the-field work to develop innovative solutions.

“The RFID Lab actually employs over 90 students, and they all work across various projects,” Rogers said. “We want to be able to expose them to these major companies in these industries, and we want to allow them the opportunities to have careers at these companies that we work with. So, our students are a vital part of what we do here.”

Currently, the lab is seeking aerospace and aviation firms to support its research through dedicated funding. Sponsorships are also open to Auburn’s RFID Lab and other sensor fusion technology providers. An upcoming opportunity for such collaboration will involve a new AeroID Summit conference that the Aviation and Aerospace ID Lab will be presenting in the fall at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The conference will promote private-public collaboration and raise awareness for the lab’s research effort and its goals.