PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Twenty-six “Visionary Q-Prize” innovation challenge solutions submitted by non-traditional acquisition sources such as universities, individuals and small companies from 10 different countries were narrowed down to eight cash-prize winners in two categories last week, with the first-place winners in two categories receiving $20,000. Second through fourth place winners received $15,000, $10,000 and $5,000, respectively.
The first-ever VQ-Prize challenge, which ran from Oct. 29, 2018, through Jan. 15, was hosted by the Air Force Research Labs Space Vehicles Directorate and the Wright Brothers Institute, to encourage non-traditional sources with innovative products and ideas, to engage with military customers to develop solutions for safe and secure operations in space.
“Space is such a dynamic and complex environment that is becoming more and more congested and contested. We need to be able to display and interpret data faster and more accurately, so we can respond quickly and appropriately to any kind of threat, whether it’s adversarial, space debris or satellites in close proximity,” said Gen. Jay Raymond, Air Force Space Command and Joint Forces Space Component commander. “The VQ-Prize challenge is a prime example of how we’re thinking and sourcing, outside the box, to get after rapid, agile onboarding of new technology that will make space operations safer for everyone.”
Winning solutions included ideas that leverage “4-D” visualization concepts used in popular video games as well as another entitled “CoSMIC” (Command, Sensing, and Mapping Information Center), which is a solution centered around a VR headset designed to minimize mental workload and focus the operator’s attention on user-selected objects.
“The goal of this challenge was to tap into ideas and talent that exist outside our traditional acquisition sources in order to augment the innovation and new technology we’re onboarding to maintain U.S. space dominance,” said Raymond. “We very intentionally sought out AR/VR enthusiasts and influencers at the outset of this challenge, and the solutions we received prove there’s a wealth of great ideas out there and that we need to continue to create avenues such as the VQ-Prize to connect innovative ideas to needs.”
Wright Brothers Institute utilized their innovation and collaboration expertise to construct the challenge with the goal of capturing the best ideas from diverse participants, giving the winning solutions a greater chance for success.
The winners for the “Traditional” two-dimensional interface category are:
1st place - Konrad Klepacki, Mateusz Dyrda and Katarzyna Studzinska from Poland
2nd place - Jeremy Loomis
3rd place - Patrick Talbot
4th place - Laurie Quill
The winners for the “Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality” category are:
1st place - Barret Schlegelmilch, Eswar Anandapadmanaban, Steven Link, Eric Hinterman, Alexander Laiman, and Phil Ebben from the United States
2nd place - John Valentino
3rd place - Ontario Britton
4th place - Mitchell Kirshner and his team from the University of Arizona
Dr. Marcin Michalski from Poland received a $1,000 bonus award for a novel concept for grouping space objects.
“The international participation in the VQ-Prize challenge is a testament to the global impact and importance of the Space Situational Awareness operations our Airmen and mission partners conduct all day, every day,” said Raymond.