Employees category winners

Leonardo Innovation Award 2018

For fourteen years Leonardo has been rewarding the innovative projects of its employees all over the world. For the fourth year running, projects have been divided into categories: Incremental Innovation, which aims to improve to existing products; Radical Innovation, which involves generating new products or creating opportunities in new markets for existing products, and the Idea category, relating to projects that do not have an impact on the business in the short term but could produce a competitive advantage in the future. In addition, there is a prize for the Best patent, and, new for the 2018 edition, an award in the Processes category.

Leonardo Innovation Award: winners of the Employees category

The incremental innovation category

Stefano Pastore, Bruno Addivinola, Augusto Albolini, Antonio Ciliberto, Lucia Cutillo, Giuseppe Stefano Gallo (Aircraft Division)
Tartaric-Sulphuric Anodising process for the protection of aluminium alloys.

The innovation is the development and validation of an environmentally-friendly galvanic process which protects parts made from aluminium alloys against corrosion. The new process is called Tartaric-Sulphuric Anodising (TSA) and is an alternative to the traditional Chromium Anodic Oxidation (CAA) process. The galvanic process is a technique that allows a surface to be covered with a thin layer of a metal via electrolytic deposition. In aircraft manufacturing, the system is used to protect aluminium aerostructures from oxidation processes. By eliminating chromium from production cycles, the innovation is in line with Leonardo’s strategic objective to develop technologies, materials and processes that ensure compliance with REACH regulations (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals). Together, these aim to improve knowledge of the hazards and risks arising from chemical products and represent a significant contribution to reducing environmental impact. 

The radical innovation category

Filippo Rodriguez, Stefano di Rollo, Osman Kalden, Douwe Lambers, Gian Paolo Plaia, Luca Preziosi, Roberto Ronchini, Vanessa Sicurello (Telespazio) 
Ionosphere prediction service for GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) users. 

The innovation is a platform which can predict when solar explosions interacting with the ionosphere will interfere with terrestrial systems. The activity of the sun produces significant effects on the ionosphere, which is the highest ionised layer of the Earth’s atmosphere. This can influence the behaviour of satellite navigation systems, drastically reducing their accuracy or interrupting their proper functioning. Today, predicting weather conditions in space is of special interest: systems are therefore needed to help anticipate and measure the effect of solar activity on applications and services that use satellite navigation systems. The beneficiaries of these forecasts would include the operators of vehicles, aircraft and vessels which use receivers based on GPS, Galileo and other systems to navigate. The service is based on advanced proprietary algorithms that draw on data provided by various open source sensors and historical data. The output is forecasts which are useful in mitigating the effects of magnetic interference. 

The idea category

Marco Lopez, Eden Mei (Leonardo DRS)
Quantum Weak Value Amplification (WVA) based inertial navigation at a chip scale utilising photonic waveguide. 
The aim of the project is to integrate, at chip level, an optical gyroscope (a sensor which is fundamental to the workings of inertial guidance systems, Inertial Monitoring Unit-IMU) with performance which is potentially far superior to that of high-end IMUs and much greater in scope. The idea is to use the WVA (Weak Value Amplification) methodology to measure ultra-small phase shifts in the optical interferometer, which is the basis of a gyroscope.

The best patent

Luke Alexander Pillans (Land and Naval Defence Electronics Division) 
Thermal imaging calibration system and method.
The patent relates to a solution that calibrates a thermal (infrared) imaging system. Focal Plane Arrays (FPA) are made up of a matrix of pixels that often show a non-uniformity of operation between them. It is therefore common to use calibration techniques to correct non-uniformities and improve the quality of the image, typically performed only once, during the production phase of the thermal chamber. However, with many detector technologies it has been found that pixel uniformity can change over time and performance can be improved by performing additional on-site calibrations before or during each use. The new calibration system includes a shutter that can be moved mechanically in and out of the optical path in question. The calibration system covered by the invention can also allow a reduction in the size of the lens used in the cameras in Leonardo’s FIREFLY family. 

The processes category

Vincenzo Sabbatino, Vincenzo Arrichiello, Paolo Casanova, Alessandro Garibbo, Daniele La Rosa, Paola Savoia (Leonardo)
Lunch Time Seminar. 

Lunch time seminars are popular presentations given every fortnight by experienced colleagues, broadcast via video conference to allow the largest number of employees to take part. They serve as an innovative Knowledge Management tool to spread technological know-how and promote a culture of innovation. They also help to build a wide understanding of the company’s activities, supporting the integration of different businesses. 

Special mention

Roberto Sanguini, Fabio Bello, Zaira Burlo, Alberto Clocchiatti, Salvatore D’Onofrio, Ludovica Rendine, Gabriele Tonini, Raffaele Vertucci (Helicopter Division)
Support And Learning Anywhere Integrated (SALAI)
SALAI is an innovative platform which, drawing on the division’s experience and products, aims to become the “One Leonardo” answer to the support and remote training needs of the Company’s maintenance technicians.