DIUx Wants to Find Companies to Detect and Intercept Drones


Army drone illustration by the U.S. ArmyThe Pentagon’s innovation cell has ramped up its program as promised in 2017 to put emerging technology companies under contract quickly. And thus far the two themes have been software development and detecting drones.

Using the Commercial Solutions Program, the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) has issued five requests through the first quarter of 2017 to find companies. The most recent request — a search for companies building a multi drone defeat system — closed yesterday.

DIUX has targeted companies to help military units detect drones with three of the five application requests searching for companies specializing in different forms of detection methods. Miniature drones, especially swarm drones, have become a serious concern for military commanders as the cost for the aircraft has dropped significantly.

Troops in Iraq and Syria have reported finding small to medium drones armed by ISIS fighters with explosives. Ground commanders expect the threat to grow and want options to protect their units.

DIUx has not released information on the companies it has chosen for these contracts or the amounts it has spent on these requests. In fiscal year 2016, DIUx spent $36 million on 12 contracts. The organization was criticized by some analysts for not spending more considering how the sum compares to the rest of the defense budget.

Pentagon officials said DIUx would receive a larger budget and pointed out how the agency was still getting established since its birth in 2015.

So far this year, the Pentagon has used DIUx to find companies building an acoustic counter UAS system; a multi drone defeat system, and a passive, optical counter UAS detection system. More details on the technical details of the requests can be found at our running list of Commercial Solutions Openings here.

DIUx is not focused solely on drones, though. The innovation cell has also issued requests for software development tools to include machine learning software products and the ability to prototype a software development environment to upgrade the military’s command and control systems in a cloud infrastructure.

When we find out who won these contracts, we’ll let you know. We continue to promote these opportunities because it’s one of the best ways to start working with the Defense Department and fund your startup. You can learn about the rules and method to apply for these programs here.

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