Vancouver International Airport & Unity sign MOU to commercialize the airport’s Digital Twin for the global aviation industry

In General XR News

March 24, 2023 – Vancouver International Airport (YVR) has recently announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Unity to commercialize YVR’s Digital Twin powered by Unity, for the global aviation industry.

According to YVR, the strategic collaboration aims to bring the airport’s Digital Twin model to the broader aviation market so that other airports can advance their own digital transformation.

YVR’s Digital Twin is the first major product out of YVR’s Innovation Hub, and was launched in 2021 as a people-first technology to advance the airport’s vision to power the future through innovation and sustainable technology solutions. According to YVR, the Digital Twin is a powerful tool that facilitates optimization, future planning, simulation, training, testing, and more by aggregating and visualizing data across disparate sources.

Through the integration of sensors, historical and real-time data into the platform, the Digital Twin helps to strategically present key information in 2D and 3D, enabling data-driven decision-making and collaboration, which has never previously been available to the airport before.

“From the beginning, YVR’s Digital Twin has been centered around our people – employees, passengers and the community,” said Lynette DuJohn, VP of Innovation and CIO at Vancouver Airport Authority. “In bringing our Digital Twin to the global aviation market, we look forward to working with other airports, and industry partners, to positively transform the way they serve their passengers through the possibilities this exciting technology offers.”

YVR stated that this big step wouldn’t be possible without the support of the airport’s partner Unity – a leading platform for creating and growing interactive, real-time 3D (RT3D) content and its professional service group, Accelerate Solutions.

“I am very excited about Unity and YVR’s joint go-to-market plan for an airport Digital Twin platform,” said Ryan Peterson, VP, Accelerate Solutions, at Unity. “The last three years have seen a tremendous amount of collaboration, boldness and vision from both organizations, and I believe this Digital Twin platform can provide incredible value to airports around the world. Accelerating aviation’s digital transformation will have a massive, positive impact on our society, with the goal of driving efficiencies in the transport of people and goods.”

Since 2021, the YVR Digital Twin platform has addressed various operational challenges amid changing aviation and travel realities. During the 2022 peak summer travel season, YVR’s Guest Experience Team used the Digital Twin to relieve passenger congestion at security checkpoints.

Additionally, to support YVR’s decarbonization goals and help the aviation industry reach net zero emissions by 2030, YVR is working in collaboration with carrier partners to build a greenhouse gas calculation model that monitors, maps out and analyzes more efficient aircraft movements with the aim to reduce airside emissions.

As part of its reconciliation efforts, YVR will also provide access to training opportunities to Musqueam students through a Unity certification program designed to advance future career placements within the digital twin and gaming industries. YVR and Musqueam are located in the same community on land that is Musqueam traditional territory. YVR added that it is also exploring the possibility of digitizing the airport’s extensive Indigenous art collection, so as to share Indigenous culture, art and language with the world.

YVR stated that in the coming months it will be working closely with airports and sector partners to advance digital twin technology and make it available to partners in Canada and around the world.

Image / video credit: Vancouver International Airport / YouTube

About the author

Sam Sprigg

Sam is the Founder and Managing Editor of Auganix. With a background in research and report writing, he has been covering XR industry news for the past seven years.