xTech winner links wireless power to the Army

By Anna Volkwine, Office of Army Prize Competitions and Army Applied SBIR ProgramMay 3, 2023

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

WASHINGTON – Resonant Link, a two-time winner of the U.S. Army’s xTech Program, is doing just what their name suggests — creating resonating links for the Army between wireless power systems, clean energy and various Army applications to solve critical mission challenges.

Grayson Zulauf, Resonant Link’s co-founder and CEO, compared their technology to simplifying what you’d see when looking under the hood of a car; someone unfamiliar with car mechanics might not understand the complexities of the wires, interconnections and cables that keep the vehicle running. The inner workings of a combat vehicle that operates in rugged environments are even more complex.

Zulauf, alongside Aaron Stein and Phyo Aung Kyaw, founded Resonant Link in 2017 to transform the capabilities of wireless power and accelerate electrification. The team set their minds to developing a wireless, high-efficiency power and data transfer system for the Army. Their technology is small, fast and devoid of excess waste from wires, unnecessarily large batteries, and metals — providing long-term environmental benefits.

“Resonant Link’s goal is to eliminate the physical and cognitive load for Soldiers through wireless power,” Zulauf said.

During the xTechSBIR competition in 2020, Zulauf and his team pitched the capability to reduce cabling complexity inside vehicles to make the Army’s next generation fleet easier to build, integrate, and maintain for Soldiers. They won in the “Combat Vehicle Modernization” topic area, which earned the business over $30,000 in cash prizes and the opportunity to submit for a Direct to Phase II Small Business Innovation Research contract award with the Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office. In partnership with RCCTO, Resonant Link developed and demonstrated a complete wireless power system.

Given their success with xTechSBIR, Resonant Link saw another opportunity with xTechSBIR Clean Tech to continue growing in the Army space — this time, focusing on the impacts of wireless charging on the Army’s total vehicle ownership costs and transition to a clean energy future.

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Resonant Link earned another first-place award of over $10,000 in cash prizes and an Army SBIR Phase I contract for their ability to wirelessly electrify critical Army applications using clean, renewable energy that helps mitigate, rather than contribute to, the climate change crisis.

“Power needs are increasing for Soldiers in the expeditionary sense, but energy and recharging capabilities haven’t kept pace,” Zulauf said.

“With our wireless power system, we can decrease the total number of batteries, reduce the cable set, and have a standardized wireless power transfer where multiple different devices can charge automatically without any involvement from a Soldier.”

In addition to the xTech Program, the Resonant Link team discovered more mission-critical use cases for their technology through opportunities such as the Army Application Lab’s Soldier Power Cohort in 2022. The cohort ran for eight weeks and focused on understanding the technological needs of Army stakeholders and developing a concept with them. Zulauf noted the team built significant relationships with these stakeholders to determine where their technology can support the expeditionary power field.

Looking toward the future of wireless power for the Army, Zulauf is optimistic that Resonant Link can do what their company name implies — develop a resonating linkage between the Army and their clean, wireless power system. Building relationships through xTech and other Army programs is crucial to strengthening this link.

“Army programs shepherded us through the Department of Defense. As a small business, we are still learning where we can make the biggest impact for the true customer: the Soldier,” Zulauf said. “It’s special that the DoD is driving even more innovation now, and we fit squarely into their power and energy initiatives.”

Established in 2018, the Army xTech Program strives to integrate small businesses and nontraditional 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. Participants receive detailed feedback from Army and DoD stakeholders and have access to training, mentorship, and other support infrastructure as they progress through the competition to determine how best to align their technology solutions with real users and buyers within the Army.

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

The Army Applied SBIR Program offers Phase I contracts to small businesses and nontraditional vendors with technologies that show technical merit, feasibility, and commercial potential. It also provides funding to businesses capable of helping the Army achieve its goals and earn further federal support in Phase II. The Direct to Phase II award is for already-mature solutions ready for demonstration.

Through the Army Applied SBIR Program, companies engage with technical, acquisition, and operational subject matter experts. These specialists offer insight into the Army’s technological opportunities while guiding them through the Army research and development ecosystem.

The Army Applied SBIR Program releases contract opportunities on a rolling, ad-hoc basis to respond to the Army’s current and expected warfighting technology needs. For eligibility information and a list of open solicitations, please visit the Army SBIR|STTR website.

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.