The Defense Department’s DIUx Reports First $36 Million In Contracts

The Department of Defense’s (DoD) Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) reported its first quarterly results of over $36 million in awarding 12 contracts in the fourth quarter of this fiscal year, the department said Friday.

The DIUx was first announced in April 2015 by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter as part of an outreach effort to technology companies and meant to help accelerate innovation for service members. It currently has offices in Silicon Valley, Boston, (Defense Daily, July 29), and Austin, Texas (Defense Daily, Sept. 19).

DIUx logo

In June 2016 DIUx launched a streamlined contracting mechanism, the Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) to mirror contracting practices that commercial companies normally use as it does business with commercially-focused companies.

In these first quarterly results (for the period ending Sept. 30) DIUx accounts for $8.3 million of the spending, with the remainder coming from other Defense Department components. For every dollar DIUx invests in the projects, other department customers contribute $3. DIUx also awarded these agreements an average of 60 days after receiving a company’s solution brief.

The executed contracts include these 12 projects:

  • Tanium for Endpoint Querying Solutions, $12.7 million, Customer: DoD CIO/Army. DIUx is working with Tanium to provide near real-time visibility and control of network endpoints that scales to support the size and complexity of DoD networks. This aims to provide DoD cyber defense operators with the ability to monitor and quickly react to rapidly changing threats.
  • Composite Engineering, Kratos [KTOS], and three other companies for High Speed Drone Aircraft, $12.6 million. DIUx will coordinate with other services and joint organizations to work with commercial drone vendors to ensure a high speed drone can be used “as a service” for testing and experimentation. DoD is exploring the use of such drones to support fourth or fifth generation fighter aircraft in autonomous or semi-autonomous roles.
  • Improbable for Game Theoretic Sandbox, $5.8 million, Customer: DoD CIO. The department is interested in prototyping commercial technologies and data applications like virtual machines to build scalable simulation sandbox for real-world event modeling and planning.
  • Saildrone for Unmanned Maritime Surface Vehicles, $1.5 million, Customer: DoD. DiuX is investing in wind-powered autonomous sailing platforms that operate on the ocean surface to provide persistent maritime surveillance and reconnaissance for the U.S. Navy. This platform would navigate the ocean autonomously without the need for manned crews and human pilots.
  • Shield AI for Autonomous Indoor Tactical Drone, $1 million, Customer: DoD. DIUx is investing in small tactical handheld quadcopters to fly indoors and map out their interiors and identifying threats without the need for a human pilot or GPS.
  • Zeuss for Knowledge Management, $500,000, Customer: DoD. DIUx is prototyping a Silicon Valley startup’s knowledge management and enterprise search platform. The company aggregates communication and disparate data from across the organization and helps present requested data in a way people natively understand it.
  • Qadium for Network Change Detection and Processing, $500,000, Customer: Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). DIUx is working with Qadium, which continually indexes all devices connected to the public Internet, to enable organizations to understand their own networks and how they relate to the broader world. This will allow the DoD tio detect and manage vulnerabilities by developing a comprehensive footprint of an organization.
  • BMNT Partners for Prtoblem Curation, Translation, and Research, $500,000, Customer: DIUx and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). DIUx is developing a new mechanism to refine and validate problems before engaging in the traditional acquisition process. The unit will translate these problems into commercial language, situations, and applications to help expand the amount of non-traditional companies aware of opportunities in the DoD.
  • Bromium for Endpoint Security, $400,000, Customer: DoD. DIUx is piloting Bromium’s technology, which uses micro-virtualization to hardware-isolate untrusted user-initiated tasks and to protect critical OS services.
  • Quid for Automated Textual Analysis and Content Curation, $400,000, Customer: U.S. Army. DIUx is working with Quid to leverage an algorithmic approach to expand a user’s ability to comprehend massive amounts of information on any given topic from large volumes of text-based content.
  • Sonitus for Wireless, Hands-Free, Ears-Free, Communicator, $200,000, Customer: Air National Guard. DIUx is adapting a commercially available hands-free, ears-free, two-way removable communications device placed in the mouth that integrates wirelessly with radios and offers clear communications in high-noise environments.
  • Halo Neuroscience for Strength and Skill Training Enhancement, $153,000), Customer: DoD. Halo Spot is a head-worn stimulation system like a pair of headphones that increases the brain’s ability to adapt to training. The headsets will be used by special ops teams to assess the effects of neurostimulation and evaluate improvements in tactical motor skills.

DIUx also released three additional projects currently being evaluated. This includes:

  • DIUx will invest in one or more multi-factor authentication technologies to prototype solutions to the problem of device-agnostic agility and strong identification and authentication even when credentials are lost.
  • DoD is seeking software solutions for a deployable cyber incident response tool kit that offers capabilities of discovery, identification, containment, eradication, recovery, information sharing, and capturing lessons learned. This evaluation is set to nest within a larger hardware and infrastructure evaluation being conducted by U.S. Cyber Command in FY 2017.
  • DoD is also considering leveraging commercial-based micro-satellite technology capable of observing during the day, night, and all-weather conditions. This capability would include using synthetic aperture radar satellite technology to complement existing capabilities and the resulting imagery would be ingested into a cloud-based computing architecture for later machine learning and object detection analysis.
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