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Applications of cloud computing in the defence sector

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Case study: Microsoft unveils platform to accelerate autonomous flight


US technology giant Microsoft has launched an end-to-end platform named Project AirSim that can accelerate autonomous air mobility. The platform runs on Microsoft Azure to safely develop, train, and test autonomous aircraft using high-fidelity simulation.

Nature of disruption:

Project AirSim leverages the potential of Azure to produce large volumes of data for training AI models on precisely what to do at each stage of flight. It provides libraries of simulated 3D environments that reflect various urban and rural landscapes and a suite of pre-trained AI models to speed up autonomy in urban air mobility, aerial infrastructure inspection, and last-mile deliveries. The platform enables developers to access pre-trained AI building blocks that include sophisticated models to detect and avoid obstacles and carry out precise landings.  

These capabilities can eliminate the need for deep ML skills, thereby increasing the number of individuals who can begin training autonomous aircraft. Additionally, high-fidelity physics-based sensor simulations are used to provide customers with comprehensive ground truth data for autonomous vehicles. A large amount of data is produced during simulated flights and is collected by developers, who employ various ML techniques for training models.  

Project AirSim allows advanced aerial mobility (AAM) customers to test and train AI-powered aircraft in a simulated 3D environment. It serves as an essential tool for bridging the gap between physical things and software while demonstrating the potential for the industrial metaverse where businesses can develop, test, and refine solutions before implementing them in the physical world.  


Autonomous systems have the potential to transform different industries and enable various aerial scenarios, from the last-mile delivery of commodities to the assessment of downed power lines remotely to see if they are safely trained in a realistic, virtualised world.  

Microsoft’s Project AirSim combines flight data, and 3D simulations with AI models to build, train and test autonomous flights. Customers can use Microsoft’s Bing Maps to create 3D environments and access a library of specific locations including cities or generic spaces like an airport for better training the aircraft.  

Microsoft claims that the US-based autonomous robots start-up Airtonomy has employed Project AirSim to train autonomous aerial vehicles that monitor vital infrastructure like wind turbines. The company boasts that Project AirSim’s ability to collect flight data and turn it into autonomy can transform the aviation industry.  

Case study: Leolabs offers space mapping solution for low earth orbit sustainability


US start-up Leolabs provides commercial radar tracking services for objects in low earth orbit (LEO). It protects satellites and spacecraft from debris collisions by providing real-time conjunction alerts on secondary objects. The platform uses SRI International’s Advanced Modular, Incoherent Scatter Radar (AMISR) technology for monitoring space traffic.

Nature of disruption:

Leolabs combined AMISR technology with a cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) application to convert radar data into actionable information for preventing orbital collisions. The AMISR systems use wide-bandwidth radar pulses and coherent processing to detect objects as small as 5-10cm in size through LEO. It provides a range resolution of more than 20m for LEO targets. Its tracking and monitoring service leverages the LeoLabs global radar network for offering precision tracking and curated orbit data products for 1U size satellites and below.  

The platform provides automatic event-matching and data reporting by integrating third-party conjunction data messages (CDMs) into LeoLabs Collision Avoidance solution. It offers web dashboards that provide features including satellite location in real-time, access to current and historical data, state vector comparisons, embeddable 2D/3D visualisations, and predicted next passes. 


As per NASA reports, there are approximately 23,000 pieces of debris larger than a softball orbiting the Earth. They travel at speeds up to 17,500mph, fast enough for a relatively small piece of orbital debris to damage a satellite or a spacecraft. NASA also estimates that an active satellite in LEO will collide with a piece of debris larger than 1cm every five to six years, resulting in a significant financial loss in the event of a collision.  

Leolabs leverages AMISR technology to prevent such collisions by providing actionable alerts. The solution claims to make it easier and less costly for researchers during the Earth’s ionosphere and upper atmosphere analysis and measurement. 

Case study: Bluetail debuts SaaS platform to digitise business aircraft records management 


US aviation software company Bluetail has unveiled a SaaS platform to streamline business aircraft records management. It can help business jet owners and operators to maximise the lifetime value of their aircraft by digitising all the records related to the aircraft.

Nature of disruption:

Bluetail’s SaaS platform enables users to upload, organise, share, and print all important information about their aircraft or fleet from any device and anywhere. It acts as a digital logbook that categorises and arranges the records by the Air Transport Association of America codes, aircraft timelines, manuals, legal documents, and photos.  

Maintenance personnel can get instant access to relevant aircraft data such as detailed supporting documentation of scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, maintenance transcription reports, Form 337 and Form 8130-3, which Bluetail claims to lead to lower maintenance bills. The whole platform is integrated with governance roles and permissions at each level, embedded with AWS security, to avoid any interruptions to operations. 


Manual recording and maintenance of huge volumes of aircraft records is a tedious and time-consuming task. Moreover, the paper-based records are stored in binder and boxes, which makes searching for specific logbook and maintenance records an arduous task. To that end, Bluetail has introduced an online platform that can help aircraft owners and operators to store all records digitally. All aircraft records can be made available in one place, digitalised, organised, and shareable.

Case study: Azul Airlines partners with Sabre to introduce crew management solution


Brazilian airline company Azul Airlines has implemented Sabre Corporation’s AirCentre crew manager. Sabre’s solution can enable Azure to quickly manage and track all crew operations from a single, integrated and real-time platform.

Nature of disruption:

Crew Manager can assist an airline to maximise crew utilisation, enable cost control, and support regulatory compliance through optimised planning, innovative tracking and management, and disruption management decision support. Crew Manager uses cloud and web services-based integration for event-based messaging to crew members in real time. Azul can also benefit from Crew Manager's flexibility to scale operations and share information with crew members in changing business scenarios.


Crew Manager can help Azul to manage crew from planning through operations and thereby solve the most expensive and complex aspect of airline operations. The solution can also enable crew satisfaction through mobile solutions by granting crew members instant access to self-service options to view and manage their work schedules.

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article. 

GlobalData’s Thematic Intelligence uses proprietary data, research, and analysis to provide a forward-looking perspective on the key themes that will shape the future of the world’s largest industries and the organisations within them.