U.S. Army awards cash prizes for innovations in counter-IED technology

By Kara Kesler, Office of Army Prize Competitions and Army Applied SBIR ProgramAugust 18, 2022

WASHINGTON – Three businesses with innovative technologies in countering improvised explosive devices are the latest recipients of cash prizes awarded through the U.S. Army xTech program, the service’s competition series that revolutionized how it attracts and encourages innovation from non-traditional sources.

Left to right: Earl Higgins, senior acquisition analyst, DASA R&T; Keith Jadus, director for Ground, DASA R&T; Dr. Amy D’Agostino, program manager, xTech Program; Mark Cumo, project manager, Counter-IED Technology Office, DEVCOM C5ISR Center; Dr. Kyle Gallagher, electronics engineer, DEVCOM ARL; Dr. James Jensen, chemist, DEVCOM Chemical Biological Center. (U.S. Army)
Left to right: Earl Higgins, senior acquisition analyst, DASA R&T; Keith Jadus, director for Ground, DASA R&T; Dr. Amy D’Agostino, program manager, xTech Program; Mark Cumo, project manager, Counter-IED Technology Office, DEVCOM C5ISR Center; Dr. Kyle Gallagher, electronics engineer, DEVCOM ARL; Dr. James Jensen, chemist, DEVCOM Chemical Biological Center. (U.S. Army) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

The three winning companies were among 12 finalists invited to present their novel technologies during the xTechDetect competition finals held July 26-27 in Arlington, Virginia. The winning companies were awarded cash prizes, with first, second and third place receiving $70,000, $50,000, and $30,000, respectively.

The winning companies are:

·      First Place: Aloft Sensing, Inc., Ann Arbor, Mich., “Compact Millimeter Wave Imaging Radar for Assured Positioning on sUAS”

·      Second Place: Grayscale AI, London, United Kingdom, “Event-based Simultaneous Localization and Mapping using Neuromorphic Computing for sUAS”

·      Third Place: Syght, Inc., Boulder, Colo., “Low-Cost Passive Standoff Millimeter Wave Imager”

“I am very encouraged by the first xTechDetect event,” said Keith Jadus, director for Ground,

Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology. “Partnering with these innovative businesses identified promising capabilities that we hope will help protect the warfighter from improvised explosive threats.”

Sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, in partnership with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory, DEVCOM C5ISR Center, DEVCOM Forward Elements, Army Engineering Research and Development Center and U.S. Office of Naval Research Global, the xTechDetect competition opened in March with a call to submit concept white papers for technology solutions that can be leveraged by the Army to advance its C-IED capabilities in the areas of position tracking on small unmanned aerial systems, low-cost millimeter wave imager and autonomous sensor orchestration.

Of the more than 40 businesses and universities that submitted white papers, 12 finalists were selected to receive $10,000 and the chance to pitch their project to a panel of Army and DoD subject-matter experts.

“Breakthrough technologies, like online map building for navigation without GPS and portable 3D imaging, demonstrate the competition finalists’ proficiency in this space,” said Dr. Matt Willis, director of Army Prize Competitions and Army Applied SBIR Program within the Office of the ASA(ALT).

“Pathways like xTechDetect are key in connecting the Army to novel technologies that support the advancement of our C-IED capabilities.”

Established in 2018, the xTechSearch program strives to integrate small businesses and non-traditional vendors into the Army’s science and technology ecosystem by providing opportunities for direct exposure to laboratories, program executive offices and program managers from across the Army.

Finalists are admitted to the xTech Accelerator — at no costs to the companies — to receive additional mentorship and networking opportunities to help grow their companies for government and commercial users.

The Army xTech Program holds several competitions per year, from open-topic competitions through iterations of xTechSearch, to technology-specific competitions targeting specific Army needs and challenges. For all competition information, go to https://www.xtechsearch.army.mil/.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology provides the American Soldier with a decisive advantage in any mission by developing, acquiring, fielding and sustaining the world’s finest equipment and services, and by leveraging technologies and capabilities to meet current and future Army needs. For more information, go to https://www.army.mil/asaalt/.