In partnership with the U.S. Air Force, AFWERX challenges entrepreneurs, industry experts, garage tinkerers and academics to contribute their BOLD ideas to help protect the men and women who defend us around the world.


What’s in it for YOU?

  • You could be the one to help our military address tomorrow’s threats.
  • The Air Force invests millions of dollars each year on security upgrades, your idea could be selected for funding.
  • You will also attract interest from the following groups:

How it Works

The innovation challenge is where you are able to submit your ideas and see and vote on other people’s ideas. These ideas will then be reviewed by AFWERX and the winning selections will move on to be presented at the Fusion Xperience event June 20-21, 2018. 



so you understand where solutions are needed

The Air Force and other military branches need to protect our people in three different contexts: fixed, temporary and mobile. Each context comes with a set of known variables that make different security solutions more or less practical, possible or effective.

Sometimes these contexts might intersect. For example, mobile becomes temporary when a convoy stops for a given period. Temporary begins to resemble fixed the longer the site is in place. Security solutions that work seamlessly across some or all of these contexts are particularly appealing.


Assets and personnel that are expected to be in a specific location for 10 or more years.


An Air Force base within a defined perimeter.

Solution Considerations

  • People and equipment may have been at this location for 10+ years. That means everyone knows it’s there, and security capabilities are already in place.

  • Existing infrastructure and security measures may be dated and in need of repair.


Assets and personnel that are expected to be in place for as little as one hour up to many years, with the expectation that the site will eventually be decommissioned.


Securing and recovering an aircraft crash site, stopping a mobile resupply convoy overnight or building and maintaining a temporary airport over the space of months or years while a more permanent, fixed site is being established.

Solution Considerations

  • Temporary sites are by far the most complicated and can encompass the broadest range of scenarios.

  • The need for temporary sites may be identical to fixed sites, but security needs to be set up rapidly.
  • The first 48 hours are critical.
  • Temporary sites can be both planned (for example, a new base) and unforeseen (for example, a crash site).
  • Temporary assets need infrastructure quickly, so the best solutions are easily deployable, modular and rely on alternate power sources based on open source architecture for easy field replacements and low costs.
  • Communications are essential, so protecting communications infrastructure is important.
  • Training should be quick, taking advantage of augmented reality, virtual reality, online courses, etc.


Assets and personnel that are expected to be on the move.


Anything in transit, including people, food and medical supplies, munitions, fuel and equipment parts.

Solution Considerations

  • Different environments — cities, suburbs, farms, small countries, desert, seashore.

  • Changing weather conditions — extreme heat, blizzards, hurricanes, etc.
  • Mobile security may vary with the number of people involved or the type of equipment or cargo that needs protecting.
  • Planned and unplanned stops along the way that may take a short time or a long while.
  • Ways to achieve a 360-degree bubble at all times to protect against attacks from above, below, behind and even from outer space and cyber space.
  • Need to be able to communicate to the Command and Control centers, providing situational awareness.


so you know what we’re looking for

We’re looking for solutions that are:

Better, not extra
New security threats are emerging while the old threats still exist. Here’s one example: Drones are tomorrow’s helicopter. Unmanned, remotely operated, low and slow flying, yet still capable of delivering a deadly payload. We need a new way of detecting drones. Ideally we need a solution that can continue to detect airborne threats (jet fighters, helicopters) AND drones.

Less, not more
If we simply deployed more of everything we already have — personnel, cameras, sensors, aircraft, barriers, fences — then security would be incrementally better. But what we need is to be more effective with less. More effective with fewer people, less maintenance, minimal training, lower costs. Our security capabilities are already excellent. But we need to be able to do more with less.


Stand-out Solutions will:

  • Be effective in as many different security contexts and environments as possible, including austere locations and extreme weather patterns

  • Protect against threats that come by air, ground, sea, or cyber
  • Protect against cyberattacks that target our data and may coincide with physical attacks
  • Incorporate emerging technologies like artificial intelligence or augmented reality
  • Need little manpower to deploy and maintain since the trend toward reducing U.S. military force size is expected to continue
  • Require little training


These considerations can translate to opportunities for your idea:

  • Size
  • Weight
  • Autonomous functioning
  • Power needs/sources: redundancy backup, self-generating
  • Ease of use with minimal training
  • Tyranny of distance
  • Prioritization of multiple threats
  • Need to be both proactive and reactive


Ideas can be in any stage of development. Please don't limit yourself. They can be:

  • Early stage ideas or startups
  • Prototypes
  • Actual working solutions or products
  • Established businesses


Existing solutions from other industries may apply to this challenge:

  • Cameras
  • Sensors that detect intruders or changes in the environment
  • Patrols
  • Unmanned aerial systems (UAS)
  • Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning
  • Internet of Things (IoT) network integrating multiple systems


if you want a more in depth understanding of security

How We Think About Security
Security is the ability to identify threats, understand their intent or purpose, choose the appropriate type of response and execute that response. There is no one-size-fits-all security solution for cyber, ground, air or sea threats. We are seeking solutions to all the various categories; however, your idea may be focused on just one.


Proactive Security

  • Avoid (our enemy doesn’t know we are there)
    • Cloaking technology
    • Stealth technology
    • Feedback loop from all known threats and incidents so that we learn to improve our ability to avoid future attacks
  • Deter (even if our presence is known, there is no attack)
    • Impenetrable defense system is known
    • Ability to respond to an attack is known
    • Obvious barriers to entry, e.g. a fence, cameras, autonomous patrols

Reactive Security

  • Detect (identify all threats in real time)
    • Sensors, cameras and other data received once a perimeter is breached or impacted
    • Analysis of data in real time to identify threats and enhance situational awareness
    • Ability to further identify and assess the threat after data has been received, e.g. reconnaissance drones, autonomous vehicle or a patrol
  • Delay (slow or stop the threat)
    • Barriers are in place to slow an attack (physical, technological, electromagnetic pulse, etc.)
    • Enemy tracking in real time with counter measures to slow the attack
  • Deny (completely prevent or halt the threat, without eliminating)
    • Barriers and counter measures that prevent advancement
    • Containment of the threat
  • Defeat (eliminate the threat)
    • Measures to defeat the threat and stop the attack
    • Analytics to more accurately understand the threat and the best response to defeat it