Airbus Aerial


Airbus Aerial 2034

What follows is a design exercise, created in an attempt to gain a better understanding of Airbus Aerial's business, both now and in the near future. As such, this experiment isn't intended to represent a thorough  study of your customers and their needs. Instead, try to see it as an example of the processes I'd employ to get there.



The Company

Since 2017, Airbus Aerial has worked with a variety of corporations to provide data and analytics on terrestrial weather to insurers, as well as automated cargo delivery to and from more than 20 concurrent space mining operations. Taking place in low-Earth orbit (LEO), on asteroids captured from the Inner Asteroid Belt, and the moonlets of Jupiter and Saturn, these tasks are high-risk/high-reward and demand nothing but the most exacting engineering and design. With annual revenue from space mining operations expected to surpass $100bn by 2035, Airbus Aerial is positioned to retain its status as the premier supplier of weather data and automated cargo transport and management throughout the Sol System.


The Product

Airbus Aerial is recognized as an industry leader in the design and construction of unmanned drones built to operate at high altitudes, in low-Earth orbit, and in the micro-gravity of moonlets and asteroids. These operations are supported by capable software platforms which provide corporate entities access to detailed analysis of various mining operations, cargo management, and terrestrial weather conditions, in addition to drone management and manual control systems. Through secure API access, we also provide data gathering and analytics tools to a variety of vendors outside of the space mining industry, such as insurers, architects, urban planners, and commercial satellite operators.


The People (Personas)

A user-centered approach to the design of the platforms powering Airbus Aerial’s operations assists in creating efficiency gains, while helping reduce revenue loss. Data analysis, weather reporting, and drone management have been identified as areas with a high probability of significant revenue gain. Thus, we have conducted extensive user research in an effort to better understand and serve the needs of the individuals using the aforementioned systems. The information below represents a summary of our findings.




24, Exogeologist for DSI, Single, No Children, L5 Station Aurora via Chicago/USA

Fresh out of Harvard, Aisha is by the far the youngest of her cohort to attain an advanced degree in planetary sciences, while simultaneously securing a highly-coveted spot on the newly constructed Aurora Space Station. As such, she is full of energy and eager to prove her worth to her colleagues, especially her superiors. While this tenacity translates well into a strong work ethic and being a self-starter, it can also get her into trouble, as she tends to be impulsive.

  • Attitudes
    • Optimistic, Impatient, Curious, “Big Picture” thinker
  • Motivations
    • Quickly advancing through professional ranks, Making a name for herself in field of exogeology
  • Goals
    • Analyze samples taken from asteroids to determine viability for mining
  • Pain Points
    • Organizing large amounts of geological data w/ current interface is clumsy and tedious, Data visualizations are difficult to interpret


41, Astronaut & Drone Pilot for ESA, Married, No Children, L5 Station Aurora via Lyons/France

Cool. Calm. Collected. According to Pauline, this is the mantra which should define the attitude of each and every pilot while on duty. Beneath her poise and exceptional skill as a pilot, however, you’ll find an accomplished collegiate athlete, a painter, and a musician who is in love with hip-hop and techno. Pauline strives to be a polymath, and so far seems to be enjoying great success in each of her endeavors. As someone who has flown more than a dozen successful round-trip missions to the Lunar Colonies, she places great trust in the automated systems designed to make the exacting calculations required for safe space travel.

  • Attitudes
    • Pragmatic, Strategic, Loyal, Values Efficiency
  • Motivations
    • To ensure cargo and supplies are delivered intact and undamaged, To maximize the efficiency of each mission
  • Goals
    • Ensuring safe delivery of lunar colony cargo and mining supplies
  • Pain Points
    • Feels unable to effectively monitor the variety of systems under her control


38, Drone Engineer & Pilot for Airbus Aerial, Divorced & Single, 1 Child, L5 Station Aurora via Detroit/USA

A second-generation immigrant born to an Egyptian family of mechanics and engineers, Shafiq is quite charismatic and has a penchant for solving tough problems. A former flight mechanic of the United States Air Force, he possess a razor-sharp eye for detail and an uncanny ability to visualize even the most complex systems with startling accuracy. He’s also a fairly accomplished drone pilot, and (perhaps dubiously) claims the title for fastest flight time through the Inner Belt and back. Depending on the audience, this feat was also accomplished without the aid of any supplemental navigational guidance (using “just the stick”; in flyboy parlance, a reference to manual flight control using only the joysticks to control the velocity, pitch, and yaw of the craft).

  • Attitudes
    • Confident, Relies on Instinct (gut feeling), Adaptable, High Degree of Lateral Thinking 
  • Motivations
    • To be the best drone pilot "this side of the Belt”, Win multiple large purses in drone races, Put the winnings in a trust fund for his son
  • Goals
    • Ensuring quick delivery of lunar colony cargo and mining supplies
  • Pain Points
    • Finds HUD for manual control of drones to be inhibiting, not customizable enough


47, Commercial Insurance Agent for State Farm, Married, 3 Children, Atlanta/USA

The modern family man, Joesph enjoys a quiet life with his wife and three children in the leafy suburbs of northwest Atlanta. A graduate of UGA, he is a devoted Bulldogs fan, much to the chagrin of his wife Michelle (who happens to be a Georgia Tech grad). With a stable family life and one child on the way to college (and another soon to follow), Joseph plays an active role in his community. Neighborhood meetings, city council planning committees, and chaperoning school events make up the bulk of Joseph’s activities outside of work. Though he is rarely seen sitting still, he somehow always makes time for family and friends. Once intent on being a chef and eventually opening his own BBQ joint, Joseph often hosts cook-outs in his immaculately landscaped backyard.

  • Attitudes
    • Pragmatic, Patient, Loyal, Nurturing, Prefers Empirical Evidence Whenever Possible, Long-term planner 
  • Motivations
    • Put all three children through college, Provide stable home life for family, Eventually open a BBQ joint

  • Goals
    • Gathering flood-plain data via GIS for a new residential development along the Chattahoochee River
  • Pain Points
    • Interface for current GIS software takes too much effort to figure out, Data visualizations are difficult to interpret


The Interface


Main Display

Much of the surface area of the display is given over to a map of the region. Various filters and overlays can be toggled on and off using the toolbar inset on the bottom of the map. To the immediate right of the map is a condensed listing of all drones under the command team's control. 

Orbital Control

Displays the orbits of various celestial objects within a given radius. Shows elliptical plane, orbital path, and name.

Topographic Map

Meant to display information regarding the topography of the object in question.

Secondary Display

A secondary window that allows the user to monitor various bits of information. In this case, a cross-section map is displayed. This map is designed to aid in assessing the landing zone as the drone descends. 

Drone Monitor

A condensed listing of all drones under the command team's control.  Each button displays a summary of information regarding each drone, including flight status, fuel levels, prop status, and designation. Tapping a button drills down into a more detailed view of the individual drone. The panel can be expanded to fill the main display space by dragging the left edge over 50% of the main display area.

Surface Conditions

Provides information regarding the surface conditions of the object in question. Information displayed includes a three-dimensional scan of the surface, topographic details, gravity, atmospheric composition, and status messages.

Operator Control

Provides status and manual control options for the selected drone. This window can be enlarged by dragging a corner to the desired position.