Some of the smartest people in the history of computer technology figured out that one of the most powerful ways to solve problems and advance a platform or project are to open them up and solicit the collective brainpower and creativity of the whole world. Collaboration has driven technology forward and brought forth such innovations as Linux—which is the basis for the operating systems of an astonishing amount of today’s computing devices, including Android-based mobile devices. To this day, open collaboration through online communities sustains and propels the innovation of a great amount of software and even hardware.
The U.S. Air Force is employing the same strategy to leap the hurdles it’s facing with three projects: Search and Rescue 2.0, Mind of a Quadrotor, and The Launch of GPS IIF. The search and rescue project is aimed at finding better ways for rescuers to perform their dangerous and vital jobs. In Mind of a Quadrotor, the Air Force is trying to build a better system of helping a quadrotor navigate its surroundings with as little human intervention as possible. The GPS project is an effort to launch the Air Force’s latest GPS satellite to precise coordinates.
Each project has some difficult hurdles to overcome in terms of innovation and problem solving, and instead of only looking internally for solutions, the Air Force is launching The Air Force Collaboratory
to solicit the input of anyone and everyone who’s interested in contributing.
Participating is simple; you can create a free profile in a couple of minutes at airforce.com/collaboratory; choose a project to work on; and start adding ideas, commenting on others, and communicating with peers working toward the same goal.
Collaborating with others is quick and easy
Like the venerable and exciting collaborations in tech history, The Air Force Collaboratory
is not just an interesting way to pass the time; you’ll be contributing to very real projects and working with members of the Air Force as you tackle a challenge.
The Air Force will take the best ideas from The Air Force Collaboratory and prototype them, pushing them out to the field as quickly as possible. Thus, it’s reasonable to think that your idea could be deployed in a real scenario in a relatively short amount of time.
The Air Force can rapidly prototype ideas, often with 3D printing,
such as these RC helicopter legs by The Air Force Collaboratory user Alexander T.
All of this is because of the strategy of collaboration with people the world over. The wisdom here is easy to see. You never know where the next great idea might come from; it could be from one of the Air Force’s bright engineers, or it could be from some kid living in Nowhereseville, USA. (Or, more often, from the combination of the two.)
The Air Force Collaboratory
provides a platform for that youngster to not only get his or her ideas in front of real military minds, but also to receive input from those same minds and have a dialog about how to innovate and solve problems.