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Artificial Intelligence Panel

Artificial Intelligence Innovation Summit Round Up


Defense and federal leaders made their case for the artificial intelligence community in the D.C. region to help transform government at the Artificial Intelligence Innovation Summit on May 11 at WeWork in Tysons, Va.

Officials from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. General Services Agency (GSA) both spoke at the event about the AI and machine learning outreach programs their agencies have launched in recent months.

Hava Siegelmann, DARPA program manager for Lifelong Learning Machines

Hava Siegelmann, DARPA program manager for Lifelong Learning Machines

Hava Siegelmann, the program manager for DARPA’s Lifelong Learning Machines, spoke about the potential for artificial intelligence systems to start learning like living organisms through experience. DARPA launched the Lifelong Learning Machines program to attract companies to advance research to eliminate the need to update data sets and instead have the AI systems mature organically.

“It’s one of the most exciting AI programs to come out of DARPA,” said John Kaufhold, founder of Deep Learning Analytics, an AI company based in Virginia. He attended the summit to learn more about the program.

Siegelmann and her DARPA team have issued opportunities for AI companies to get involved with the program through a Broad Area Announcement. Proposals for the BAA are due on June 21.


Justin “Doc” Herman, head of the Emerging Citizen Technology program office for GSA’s Technology Transformation Service, spoke about his push to introduce the potential of intelligent personal assistants like Amazon’s Alexa to federal agencies. He sees incredible potential for these new artificial intelligence systems to better inform the public about government programs and get them engaged through these technologies.

Artificial Intelligence Innovation Summit

The first step is educating the federal agencies on the technology and the potential. The Emerging Citizen Technology program was launched to do just that. Herman designed it to be open source and allow the AI community to see the progress the government is making on the program’s GitHub post.

Pete Tseronis, former CTO for the Department of Energy, shared some of his experiences during the panel session urging AI companies in attendance to consider the government as a customer. Tseronis has since founded his own company, Dots and Bridges, and said too few companies see the opportunities for funding the government provides.

However, the government also needs to improve the ways in which it connects with communities in emerging technology fields as federal agencies struggled to modernize their digital infrastructures to support new technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning. GSA and DARPA’s new programs hope to accomplish both.

Before the panel kicked off, three AI companies from the region spoke about the technologies they have developed, and how their companies started. The presentations also highlighted some of the major advancements the AI community in the greater Washington region has grown.

Axon AI

Axon AI COO Tom Brock

Axon AI, a company based in Harrisonburg, Va., kicked off the evening with COO Tom Brock presenting. A graduate of the Mach37 program, Axon AI utilizes machine learning systems for its swam intelligence products.

Wit Lingo Founder Ahmed Bouzid

Wit Lingo Founder Ahmed Bouzid

Wit Lingo’s founder Ahmed Bouzid also presented at the summit. Based in Virginia, Bouzid worked on the Amazon team that developed Alexa. He has since left Amazon and started Wit Lingo to develop products for the Alexa system.

DataRPM co-founder Sundeep Sanghavi

DataRPM co-founder Sundeep Sanghavi

Finally, DataRPM co-founder Sundeep Sanghavi, spoke about both his company and his entrepreneurial journey as the serial entrepreneur started DataRPM in Virginia and has since moved it to Silicon Valley.

Thank you to everyone who joined us at the event. We’re looking forward to more artificial intelligence events like this. And make sure to take a look at our next two events: investor tabletop networking events with a collection of the top investors in the region.

Artificial Intelligence Innovation Summit Crow

Also, thank you to our sponsors — WeWork and Avison Young. Without your support, the Artificial Intelligence Innovation Summit would not have been possible.

WeWork Tysons

Avison Young


Announcing the Drone and Autonomous Tech Demo Winners!

Great crowd in Artisphere Ballroom

Great crowd in Artisphere Ballroom (click to see all event photos)

Last night’s event featured twelve different innovators who are perfecting, marketing and learning about drone and autonomous technologies for consumer and national security applications. The Artisphere Ballroom was full despite the threat of bad weather. We were especially thrilled to have three different high schools participating whose robotics clubs have dramatically increased in size and level of sophistication in recent years. These students were holding their own when presenting to a potentially intimidating panel of government advisers (see bios) who provided feedback and encouragement. Everyone also had the opportunity to mingle with special guests Senator Barbara Favola and Senator Adam Ebbin.

The evening culminated in cash prizes awarded to four different innovators. See the full list of attendees below and follow this link to see ALL EVENT PICTURES plus you can also see a special photo taken by a drone. Mobile users can see photos using this link.

AXON AI – Hugh Brooks
The Corvus (TM) product provides command and control software that enables a single operator to control an adaptive swarm of autonomous assets including UAVs and mounted camera.

Falls Church High School Students talk with Government Advisers from DARPA, HSARPA, DTRA, Navy,

Falls Church High School Students talk with Government Advisers from DARPA, HSARPA, DTRA, Navy,

Centeye – Geoff Barrows (voted most Socially Beneficial – $1,000)
Centeye’s extremely compact vision-based sensor systems enable the proliferating class of “micro” and “nano” class air vehicles to autonomously operate in GPS-denied and near-Earth environments.

Cogbase – Daniel Olsher
COGBASE is a knowledge base that uses open source, common sense knowledge that is stored within an immensely powerful formalism. They provide knowledge substrates that smart vehicles and robots require in order to function in the everyday world.

DroneShield – Brian Herring
A system that provides advanced warning that drones are coming by detecting the acoustic signatures of drones with low false alarms (they don’t sound like anything else in the world).

Winners with Checks

Winners were joined by Senator Barbara Favola and Senator Adam Ebbin (click to see all event photos)

Falls Church High School – Dan Tra and the Robotics Club
This is the first year to have robotics at Falls Church High School. The thirty eight member team (18 girls and 20 boys) builds using programmable robotics kits called NXT and VEX.

Robotics Club from The Potomac School – Mary Muldowney Jarratt
Our mission is to inspire students to become scientific leaders by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills.  Each of our teams to build their own robot and competes separately.

Sentien Robotics – Brandon Borko (voted Most Interesting National Security Application – $1,000)
Aims to take the capability of small-scale unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to the next level by providing the software tools and hardware automation necessary to scale up deployment of UAVs. With the use of many UAVs (10’s-100’s) tasks can be completed faster with higher reliability, increased resoluton, and at lower cost.

SUDODRONE – Edward Kablaoui (voted Most Interesting Commercial Opportunity – $1,000)
Hardware and software that allows a drone to connect to the Internet while flying using cellular networks. This system allows for monitoring the location of commercial drones and greatly reducing a loss of contact with the operator and lowering the chance of drone mishaps.

TLP Systems – Travis Pinney
TLP specializes in large scale data processing and analytics. Currently they are working to identify new and unknown sUAS based on classifying signals and creating a database for sUAS models that provide specifications and payload information for detection and simulation.

University of Virginia – David Sheffler
A 3D-printed VTOL aircraft is proposed and specifically designed to carry/deliver a relatively large payload, quietly at high speed and long distance. The system will be capable of fully autonomous payload delivery with stealth to support high speed, long distance delivery or ISR insertion.

West Potomac High School – Christopher Jones
Designed and prototyped a semi-autonomous payload retrieval system.  The system consists of a GPS transmitter carried in the rocket payload and a retrieval vehicle, based on a standard multirotor platform. It is guided by a microcomputer utilizing custom scripting to provide autonomous flight capabilities.

ZiBY Creations – Amit Ganjoo (Voted Audience Choice – $500)
ANRA is the latest venture funded by ZiBY driven primarily by one of the co-founders with a deep interest in general aviation as well as in the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle(UAV) space. This venture is still in the incubator stage with formal launch in Fall of 2015. The product is a small one man portable UAV that allows that uses a 4G LTE cellular network for Telemetry, Command and Control and for pulling down sensor data in real time.