The Pentagon is joining hands with private corporations in its drive to develop multi-purpose, high-tech sensory gear with uses ranging from people wearing it, to moulding it onto the outside of a jet at the other end of the spectrum.
According to a Reuters report, the rapid development of technology that is taking place outside government influence is one of the major reason behind this sudden interest in inviting private players onto the bandwagon, said sources within the pentagon.
According to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who termed the move as ‘another step forward‘
I’ve been pushing the Pentagon to think outside our five-sided box and invest in innovation here in Silicon Valley and in tech communities across the country.
The recent partnerships, which bring Apple, Boeing, Harvard and others into the circle are focused primarily at 3-D printing to create stretchable electronics, that may have a whole bunch of defense related uses aimed at providing soldiers with extra sensors along with coating warships and planes with it — so as to provide a live feed on their structural integrity.
The US government will be investing a sum of $75 million over a period of five years. However that is not all, companies managed by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory along with local authorities will also chip in to take the total sum up to a staggering $171 million.
FlexTech Alliance, the consortium of companies, educational centers and government agencies that is working on the project includes names ranging from commercial giants such as Boeing, Apple and Harvard, Advantest Akron Polymer Systems to local institutions such as the Kalamazoo Valley Community College.
The Obama administration in particular, seems very keen for work to progress on this particular niche in hopes, that not only will it help in improving the US defense ensemble, but may also revitalize several U.S. manufacturing sectors. Towards this, the government has already decided to set up nine institutes across the country, of which The Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Hub is the seventh.
Another interesting topic that defense chief Carter has on his palate at the moment, is associated with the level of autonomy that military drones and robots should have in future.