Representatives from the Department of Defense (DoD) innovation programs and MassRobotics startups recently gathered for our 2nd annual Robotics in Defense signature event sponsored by MITRE. The purpose of the event was to foster dialog between the DoD and the robotics tech startup community with the following goals:

  • Expose DoD innovation organizations, military, and civilians to robotics, both the technologies deployed today and cutting edge, new emerging technologies.
  • Engage robotics startups with firsthand awareness of DoD missions using robotics, current challenges and needs, and opportunities to engage with the appropriate DoD programs.

This was the first of our semi-virtual Signature Series, bringing together customers and end users in a focused industry with robotics companies whose technology supports those industries. Some of our presenters were on-site along with invited guests, and some were remote.

Marissa McCoy, chief of staff, MITRE, kicked off the event with an overview of innovation organizations across the DoD. She stated that the landscape is not always easy to navigate and MITRE has developed a Bridging Innovation website to help describe the various DoD programs, accelerators, incubators, challenges, connectors and funding opportunities.

More details of the MITRE Bridging Innovation website:

  • Understanding the DoD Innovation Ecosystem and Technology Readiness Levels: click here
  • Acquisition in the Digital Age: Tap the Innovation Ecosystem: click here

Several of these innovation programs provided information on technology they are seeking as well as how to engage with them. Participating organizations included: NavalX Tech Bridges & Northeast Tech Bridge, FedTech, xTechSearch, In-Q-Tel, SOFWERX, AFWERX, DIU, JAIC and Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center.

The second half of the event focused on startups and their technologies that support the DoD. It was kicked off with Scott Newbern, vice president and chief technology officer, AeroVironment, who described the innovative foundations of AeroVironment and discussed characteristics of their successful transition from startup to winning defense procurement programs and IPO.  He provided some observations on current challenges in the DoD and startup space that are shaping the future of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

Startups then presented their own technology overviews – which spanned land, air, sea – and more!  Presentations included: ThayerMahan, Kraken, Dive, AirShare, Cleo Robotics, TargetArm, Autonodyne, Pison, Black-I Robotics, MVP, Ascend Robotics, URBX and Spiral.

In-person attendees were treated to on-site demonstrations from Cleo and TargetArm among others.

A full event recording can be viewed HERE.

Thank you to our event sponsor: