HHLA Sky Wins UX-Design Award

The UX-Design Award 2023 goes to HHLA Sky

The UX Design Award 2023 goes to HHLA Sky and its interface design for the Integrated Control Center – ICC. The ICC is a cybersecurity-certified Mobile Robot Management software, which automates and scales drone flights and robot operations - across the entire process chain. An innovative interface was developed and designed for this purpose: the future workplace for drone pilots and mobile robot operators.

“Design is how it works”
Steve Jobs

“Design is how it works,” as Steve Jobs once said* – and the interface design of the ICC also started with the system design long before the first sketch was made. 

The operators control more than 100 or 200 automated drones in the air simultaneously - in BVLOS operations around the globe. Even land- and sea-based mobile robots can be integrated into the process management tool. The interface plays a safety-critical role: it reduces system complexity to the required level in each situation. The goal: to enable the operator to concentrate fully on one work step while maintaining an overview of the situation at all times. This enables them to make decisions more quickly. The jurors of the UX Design Awards were impressed by how effectively this divergence between complexity reduction and situational awareness was balanced.

Most Advanced, Yet Acceptable: The MAYA Principle

“Our design follows the MAYA Principle,” says Industrial Designer Professor Thomas Hofmann, initiator and General Manager of the USE Institute at the University of Applied Sciences Osnabrück: “We created an interface between gamification and serious, safety-critical context.”

“We have created a task-oriented and user-friendly interface for this complex filed of application,” confirms UX/UI Designer Rebecca Heinsohn, from WPS. The reason: Despite the ICC's highest degree of automation, the human operator is the central control authority.

The award-winning development team of HHLA Sky’s Integrated Control Center (ICC) celebrates the UX DESIGN AWARD for the interface design of the Integrated Control Center
The award-winning development team of HHLA Sky’s Integrated Control Center (ICC)

Standard for the Drone and Mobile Robot Industry

“ICC’s interface can become the industry standard,” Matthias Gronstedt, Managing Director of HHLA Sky, says looking ahead: "It neatly maps the entire process chain in mobile robot management and provides exemplary support for operational safety.”

Operational Safety

“Operational safety must, of course, follow the rules, standards, and procedures of civil aviation,” explains Matthias Gronstedt: "Safety first! After all, you are flying over people's heads or passing through critical infrastructures, adds Gronstedt. To achieve this level of safety in BVLOS operations, among other things, the ICC maps the regulations and SOPs from civil aviation. The interface meets the requirements that Airbus or Boeing pilots place on their instruments. 

Cybersecurity requirements were also systematically integrated. German technical inspection agency TÜV NORD recently issued cybersecurity certification for the ICC, making it the first of its kind in the world to receive it.

Statement by the Jury

“The jury was impressed by the calm and structured display of complex information that the Integrated Control Center offers to drone pilots. The interface is remarkably clean and the iconography is clear ... The ICC represents a convincing business case for the product and clearly shows the benefit that it brings to its customers.”, say judges Tracy Rolling, Experience Director at innovation consultancy Futurice, and Gennett Aku Agbenu, Global Head of Brand Experience/Creative Direction at Siemens.

As laudator Tae-Young Kang, Director Customer Experience Design at Deutsche Telekom sums it up at the award ceremony: “ICC’s intuitive UX design streamlines the complex drone fleet management with ease.” Kang also point out: “The project's sensitivity toward cybersecurity and safety guarantees a secure and reliable experience - well deserving of the recognition and the UX Design Award.”

HHLA Sky remains ambitious: In five years, it could be possible to integrate mixed reality and collaboration functions into the ICC and its interface, which would raise operational safety to a new, even higher level and thus harness VR applications for industrial use.

Read more at UX Design Awards

* The Guts of a New Machine, The New York Times Magazine, 2003

The UX Design Awards

The UX Design Awards present great user experience designs and successful solutions across all sectors and industries and worldwide twice yearly. 91 projects from more than 400 participants representing 46 countries were selected this time. 59 entries competed in the categories "Product" and "Concept" and 32 projects in the category "New Talent". HHLA Sky, the USE Institute and WPS won the award together. They were honored by the international jury of experts in branding, design and UX design.

USE Institute

The USE Institute for user systems engineering is a development partner of HHLA Sky in the field of user-centric system development. The use experts analyze, develop and design man-machine interaction systems. The university-affiliated research and development facility works according to scientific standards with the close involvement of users. The inclusion of new technologies is as integral to the working method as the integration of ergonomic requirements.

WPS Workplace Solutions

WPS – Workplace Solutions develops business software to meet specific requirements. The company was founded in 1999 as a university spin-off. The software developers and UX designers have since been working for customers from industry and public authorities on projects based on practice-oriented research and research-oriented practice. WPS is an independent member of the CORA Group, an association of IT companies.