MassChallenge

Air Force Labs Showcase 2024

Air Force Labs Showcase 2024

At the 2024 Air Force Labs Showcase, innovators in the dual-use space had the opportunity to network with fellow entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, and industry experts who are shaping the future of dual-use technologies, exploring new ways to leverage and apply their ideas.  

 

15 all-star startups delivered impactful 3-minute pitches, receiving well-deserved recognition from Hanscom Air Force Base leadership. The showcase also featured keynote from Matthew Steinhelfer, the US AUKUS Senior Advisor. 

The Startups Showcased

Key Takeaways in Dual-Use Innovation

The MassChallenge 2024 Air Force Labs Finale highlighted several key trends shaping the industry of dual-use innovation, which refers to technologies that can be utilized for both civilian and military applications. Here’s a detailed exploration of each trend: 

  

Generative AI 

Generative AI involves machine learning models, such as GANs (Generative Adversarial Networks) and transformers, that can generate new content, including text, images, and even music. In the context of defense, generative AI is a game changer for several reasons: 

  

    • Enhanced Decision-Making: Generative AI can analyze vast amounts of data from various sources to provide actionable insights. It can help in predicting enemy movements, optimizing logistics, and enhancing battlefield strategies. 
    • Better Resource Allocation: By simulating various scenarios, generative AI can assist in the efficient allocation of resources such as troops, equipment, and supplies, ensuring that they are utilized in the most effective manner. 
    • Modern Warfare Capabilities: Generative AI can be used to create realistic training simulations, develop new tactics, and design advanced defense systems. It can also aid in the development of autonomous weapons systems that can adapt and learn in real-time. 

 

Autonomous Systems 

Autonomous systems, including drones and robotic platforms, are transforming military operations by reducing the need for human intervention in dangerous scenarios. Key benefits include: 

    • Minimizing Risk to Human Life: Autonomous systems can perform tasks such as reconnaissance, surveillance, and even combat operations, significantly reducing the risk to human soldiers. 
    • Extending Operational Capacity: These systems can operate in environments that are inaccessible or too hazardous for humans, such as deep underwater, in space, or in areas contaminated by chemical or biological agents. 
    • Persistent Surveillance and Reconnaissance: Autonomous systems can provide continuous monitoring of specific areas, gathering intelligence and identifying threats with greater efficiency than human-operated systems. 

 

Cyber Warfare 

As technology advances, the threat landscape in the cyber domain becomes more complex. AI and cyber threats are driving significant investments and innovations in cyber defense. Key aspects include: 

  

    • AI-Driven Threat Detection: AI can identify patterns and anomalies in network traffic, helping to detect and counter cyber threats more quickly and accurately than traditional methods. 
    • Automated Response: Cyber defense systems powered by AI can autonomously respond to threats, mitigating damage and preventing breaches in real-time. 
    • Enhanced Cyber Defense Capabilities: Continuous advancements in AI and machine learning are leading to the development of more sophisticated tools to protect critical infrastructure and sensitive data from cyberattacks. 

 

Internet of Military Things (IoMT) and Edge Computing 

IoMT refers to the interconnected network of military devices and systems, while edge computing involves processing data closer to where it is generated. Together, these technologies offer significant advantages: 

    • Enhanced Situational Awareness: IoMT devices, such as sensors and wearables, can collect and transmit real-time data from the battlefield, providing commanders with a comprehensive view of the operational environment. 
    • Improved Command and Control Effectiveness: Edge computing allows for faster data processing and analysis at the point of collection, enabling quicker decision-making and more responsive command and control operations. 
    • Secure and Resilient Networks: IoMT and edge computing can create decentralized and resilient communication networks, ensuring that critical information can be transmitted even in contested or degraded environments. 

The Big Picture

Rapid advancements and widespread availability of transformative technologies, like generative AI have the promise to ‘level the playing field’ globally, demonstrating the need to keep our warfighters equipped with cutting-edge technologies for both offensive and defensive capabilities.

 

 

The 2024 Showcase marks the fifth iteration of the Air Force Labs program in partnership with Hanscom Air Force Base, demonstrating the importance of innovation through small business acceleration.  

 

Previous cohorts have raised over $60M in non-dilutive SBIR/STTR funding by identifying partners and customers during their time in the program. 

Founder Spotlight

What challenge is Skyline Nav AI is trying to solve?

Our society is too dependent on GPS, which can be off by as much as 100 meters in urban areas, can be easily jammed/denied in combat, and is vulnerable to solar storms. As an Army Officer in the National Guard and having lived in the Boston area, I am passionate about building a complementary tool to GPS that can make it better on earth. Plus, I do believe we need to explore life outside earth. There is no GPS on other celestial bodies. Hence, it is critical we build an alternative to GPS for the future of humanity and space exploration. 

 

Why MassChallenge? What were you hoping to gain, access, or learn? 

Kanwar Singh, CEO and Co-Founder of Skyline Nav AI

 

MassChallenge is a fantastic community of creators, builders, buyers and investors. I was hoping to connect with individuals who can accelerate the commercial and military adoption of our capability. Through the Air Force Labs and BAE mentorship programs, we have accomplished our objectives. Just in the past two months alone, we have signed up two enterprise customers, and are on our way to massive growth in the future. 

 

If you were to paint a picture of the next five years for your startup what should we be on the lookout for? 

We are on a mission to make GPS better in areas it struggles, and provide a viable alternative in areas that it doesn’t exist. With the success of Skyline Nav AI, our society will have a viable alternative to GPS, fix the urban canyon challenge and have a more resilient navigation solution. This is critical from a redundancy, resilience and national security standpoint. 

 

What feels like an exciting opportunity after your time with MassChallenge and why?

We are excited to continue to work with our existing customers and prospects to solve their pain points with position and navigation on land, air, sea and space. It is a big societal challenge and we are committed to making navigation better for all Americans and our allies. 

 

Want to Learn More?

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