TUM Science Hack is the hackathon organized by TUM: Junge Akademie, a scholarship program of the Technical University of Munich for exceptionally talented and dedicated students with high affinity for research and teaching. Students of diverse fields and from different universities are invited to participate in this hackathon and to display their creativity, passion, and problem-solving skills.
Industry partners and university professorship offer exciting challenges, which combine issues from different scientific disciplines. Student teams will work out solutions for these challenges. Each team gets professional support from the world of business and science. At the end of the Science Hack, the three best projects are rewarded with attractive prizes!
The last Science Hack in 2019 was attended by 90 students from various fields of study, Altair partnered in 2019 as well – read about that here The Science Hack was not held in 2020 and in this year the Science Hack 2021 had 115 attendees.
This year’s Science Hack was all about “The New Normal – Sustainable & Inclusive Cities after the Pandemic”. Why is this a challenging and important topic for which we need creative solutions? The future of humanity lies in the cities: By 2050, the population of the metropolitan areas is expected to have almost doubled. This presents opportunities, but also leads to many harsh challenges, for example issues regarding environmental compatibility, mobility, the creation of housing, but also concerning the coexistence of people with different economic, social, and ethnic backgrounds. Individuals and companies are faced with the necessity of shaping and developing the cities of the future.
One of the features of a city of the future would be drones delivering goods to customers. Even though this is still more like a dream it is already being tested by large e-commerce companies like Alibaba in east China’s Fujian province or Amazon in a test area along the US-Canadian border. Similarly, DHL has set up it’s first fixed inner-city drone route to a corporate customer in Guangzhou, China. Autonomous drones transport parcels of up to 5 kilograms over a distance of 8 kilometers between two delivery stations.
Altair sponsored the hackathon, and also provided one of the challenges of the hackathon, which required the use of state of the art digital twin technology titled “Logistics in Urban Cities Using Autonomous Drones – Flight Path Planning, Optimization and Visualization”
The challenge was the definition of an optimal 3D flight path of a drone from a given base to a target station within a city-like environment. The participants were encouraged to follow economical and ecological aspects. A classical or even a more sophisticated approach based on Neural Networks and Machine Learning could also be used. Here in this awesome video the participants explain the challenge in detail for the hackathon.
First step is the modeling of the quadcopter within Altair Activate. This model is then verified to ensure that it is accurate. For the functional modeling of the drone in Activate, we have the freedom to choose among a fully signal based approach, where we describe the mathematics of the system in term of equations, or a mixed signal/physical based approach, where we can take advantage of Modelica to describe the system using physical components that are already available in the palette browser of Activate. The 2 approaches result in an equivalent model of the relevant physics.
Activate is compatible with the FMI standard, which means that the drone model can automatically be exported into an FMU, which is a package that contains both the model and the solver. This FMU then acts as a blackbox, to which unreal engine can send input to and receive output from, without dealing with the details of the model itself.
By integrating the model into unreal engine, we gain access to a realistic visualization of the model flying through a city following its path as shown below