To decarbonize mobility, reach space and to scan the bottom of the oceans. It’s within this triangle of major technological purposes that Helen Silva, CTO of CEiiA moves. This institution is connected to some of the most daring projects in the area of smart mobility.
The “sexiest” project, recognizes Helena Silva, is the AYR platform, designed to incentivise the use of non polluting transportations, presented in New York in 2019, with great success. It consists in integrating in one app the information regarding the use of electric motorbikes, bicycles and scooters and to quantify saved CO2 emissions by each user and give it a value, a credit that can then be exchanged for services previously agreed with municipalities, such as entrance to museums or shows, amongst other possibilities.
Cascais and Matosinhos are the municipalities that are already using this platform, as a pilot experience. Now, the next step is to develop an ecosystem that allows to integrate information gathered in other mobility services, such as public transportation, explained the CTO.
“The goal is to create a local carbon market in which each user can be a player in the process of decarbonizing its city and where the CO2 savings credit function as a local currency” sums up Helena Silva.
But the ambition is to go even further. “In the future, this project will take us to local carbon funds”. That is, “after having created the ecosystem in order to quantify and transaction credit, we will evolve towards a system in which the most polluting entities become “AYR players and will have to invest in the city in projects that bring benefits to its residents.”
As futuristic as it sounds, the AYR platform it’s already functioning in the US, where CEiiA has a local partner, and in Brazil, in the states of Santa Catarina, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasília, where all started through a partnership with a shared electric scooter company, now receiving interest from the government.
Because “the focus of CEiiA is always on the future”, the center for engineering and product development it’s also anticipating a growth in new types of air mobility. “We believe that the future of mobility is not only through horizontal mobility, but there will be an increasing market for urban air mobility”, be that for short trips, deliveries or medical service assistance, foresees Helena Silva, who doesn’t give up in creating the flying car.
There are already partnerships in helicopters. But, in this domain, the most emblematic project – which was officially presented this week in Evora – is the ATL Aircraft for domestic flights, developed in partnership with the Brazilian company Desaer which will be built from scratch in Alentejo. “It’s a new generation aircraft, with an advanced technology, carbon neutral, and that will be ready to fly with green hydrogen”.
On the other side, “it’s very flexible, it can be used for passenger transportation as well as cargo, noting that the transformation from one to the other is also fast and easy to do” explains.
“This will be a very interesting market in the next few years, since it’s estimated that aircrafts of this type that are currently operating, will end their life cycle in 20 years and will have to be substituted”. That is why this project is being launched already this year, with an expected investment of 20 million euros, part own investment, part from EU funds. The new factory is, not by chance, in the aviation cluster in Evora, Ponte-de-Sor and Beja, which also counts with an airport. Helena Silva defends that this is a five year plan where the challenge will be to secure lower operation costs in order to make this aircraft something that will differentiate itself in the market.
Being able to make the difference from Portugal, recurring to local brain, is what motivates the “ambitious team” of about 300 engineers of the engineering and product development center in Matosinhos, admits.
It’s in that same spirit that the project CEiiA for space is being developed. “Before, the space was exclusively NASA’s territory, but since Elon Musk, a door opened for newcomers and we identified here an opportunity to develop new technology, mainly in the communication sector”.
The team is working with other partners to develop a micro-satellite and launching it already in 2021 from Azores islands, stated the CTO.
Curiously, it’s actually from up there, with the contribution of the spatial satellite that CEiiA hopes to receive the necessary signs in order to enter the exploration of the oceans, another of their major goals. “Atlantic Observatory” is the name of the project which aims to explore the deep sea and that “it will never be able to be developed without the contribution of space technology”, explains.
Why? Helena Silva believes that the potential of the satellite for the development of communications is crucial in order to better know the oceans. And how? With autonomous surface vehicles, for example, equipped with powerful probes to better motorize the bottom of the seas or the level of pollution in dicks, for example.
With Portugal negotiating the extension of its subsea continental platform, “it brings great challenges in the field of defense” observes. This is how we can attest that the space and the oceans are much more connected than we think and that in this world, there are no borders. “We see a mobility without borders from space to the bottom of the seas” sums up Helena Silva, an engineer that is always dreaming ahead.