AFWERX is an air force program that connects airmen with problem-solving innovators to facilitate solutions, strengthen military effectiveness, and improve capabilities.
“AFWERX is a separate entity within the air force,” says Chief Master Sergeant Ian Eishen, 548th ISRG superintendent. “They’re given money, and then they get ahold of airmen who have problems, and then connect them with a legitimate company that can solve that problem. We’re not trained to talk to a company or write a contract, but AFWERX helps with that, so they’re networking everyone together.”
One such networking event took place April 10, dubbed a “Collider” demonstration, at Beale Air Force Base, Calif. According to the air force, a number of startups were present representing a variety of markets, including virtually reality software that can help with training, and wearable biometric data devices that can detect physical stress.
“AFWERX has effectively changed the way the air force engages with a startup,” says William Allen, Harpoon Ventures co-founder, a company that helped coordinate the Collider demonstration. “Meaning, they’ve aligned a startup’s wants and needs with the air force’s wants and needs. They’re bridging the divide between Silicon Valley and the Department of Defense.”
In 2018, AFWERX was able to connect then Capt. Rob Slaughter (now Maj. Slaughter) with two companies, DIU and C3 IoT, after he approached his commander about using predictive AI to streamline aircraft maintenance. The partnership developed an artificial intelligence (AI)-based predictive maintenance solution, and results are showing the algorithm “could improve availability of the E3 by 25 percent,” according to AFWERX.
Maj. Slaughter is now pushing to make this algorithm available beyond the E3 so more airframes can benefit.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense, AI • machine learning