Air Force Offering Prizes for Ideas

By Laura Spadanuta

The U.S. Air Force Research Lab is asking for problem-solving help from the public and is sweetening the deal by offering cash incentives. The newly launched Open Innovation Pavilion solicits solutions to some tough challenges facing the Air Force. The program is a partnership with the Wright Brothers Institute.

There are four problems the Air Force is looking to solve, according to the White House's Web site:

  • The Design and Simulation of an Accurate Shooter-Locator competition challenges innovators to develop a method to detect small arms fire within a fraction of a second and accurately pinpoint its source;
  • The Humanitarian Air Drop challenge seeks novel ways to drop humanitarian supplies into populated areas without danger of falling debris to the people below;
  • The Vehicle Stopper challenge seeks a viable, sustainable, and affordable means of stopping an uncooperative fleeing vehicle without permanent damage to the vehicle or harm to any of its passengers; and
  • The Remote Human Demographic Characterization challenge seeks a system that can determine the approximate age and gender of small groups of people at a distance.


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