Counter-Drone Systems, AI Software Among AFWERX Tech Accelerator Projects

From left to right, William Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, ?USAF Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson, and John Beatty, executive director of the Massachusetts Military Task Force, have a discussion at the Techstars Autonomous Technology Accelerator for the Air Force Demo Day in Boston on April 20, 2018. This week, 10 small tech companies started a three month program with USAF and Techstars. Air Force photo by Linda LaBonte Britt.

Ten small technology companies this week began a three-month program with the Air Force and Techstars, an organization that helps businesses gain a foothold in the military and commercial markets.

Among the up-and-coming ideas are Cleo Robotics’ “hockey puck” drone that “can be thrown and bounces off floors and walls for special-operations reconnaissance and inspection of constrained spaces,” a SafeFlight app that reports malicious drone activities and swarms, and artificial-intelligence software for cybersecurity and collecting customer-experience data.

The list of companies chosen as finalists includes: AirShare, Avocado Systems, Bitwoke, Botanisol, Cleo Robotics, Flite Material Sciences, SafeFlight, SliceUp, SmileML, and Vita Inclinata.

“Selected participants will receive education on entrepreneurship, business and marketing through the technology accelerator program and are required to engage with more than 100 potential customers throughout the process, including the Department of Defense,” the Air Force said in a release.

All will pitch their inventions to potential customers and investors on May 16, according to Techstars.

The “Air Force Accelerator Powered by Techstars” builds on the Boston-based Techstars Autonomous Technology Accelerator, which launched as Techstars’ second defense-focused program in January 2018.

AFWERX was the accelerator’s initial military sponsor. In the past year, Air Education and Training Command, the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, and two Air Force Research Laboratory offices also signed on to support the program. BAE Systems is a formal sponsor as well.

“The first program, closely monitored by senior Air Force leadership, accelerated 10 cutting-edge companies who have gone on to win DOD contracts, commercial proof-of-concept projects, private investment, and are on the verge of fielding state-of-the-art products to warfighters,” according to Techstars.