U.S. Special Operations Command is partnering with the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office to create a new organization dedicated to advancing drone technology, a top acquisition official announced May 16.
The outfit, known as DRONEWERX, was modeled after Special Operations Command’s SOFWERX initiative which opened the door to nontraditional partners in industry and academia to do fast prototyping and experimentation with new technologies.
The goal is “to build a DRONEWERX equivalent to SOFWERX to really get at, how do we leverage this combination of swarm technology, commercial drone technology, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and actually create near-term combat capability?” said James “Hondo” Geurts, SOCOM’s acquisition executive, at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in Tampa, Florida.
The initiative will include prize challenges. Industry, academia, hackers and tech-savvy individuals will be allowed to participate, he said.
“That’s all about experimenting,” he said. “It’s not about writing a [request for proposals] and then 10 years from now selecting a contractor to build a SOCOM drone. It’s, 'how do we have it all work together [and] create a scalable platform?'”