Despite tremendous technological advancements over the last several decades, there are still numerous challenges which face the world every day. The Air Force has just launched a new website to encourage collaborative problem solving, and to create solutions which could someday be used in the field to help save troop and civilian lives or improve operational efficiency.
The newly launched website is called The Air Force Collaboratory, and it presents different projects which could use your help. The site introduces participants to situations which could use innovative technological solutions, ranging from search and rescue operations, to using quadrotor technology to autonomously navigate its surroundings, to helping to launch its newest GPS satellites.
Participating in The Air Force Collaboratory is open to anyone. You start out by watching a briefing video before joining a specific project, and then have access to research on the subject to help provide a foundation for your contributions. Of course, you’re encouraged to bring your own perspective and experiences as well.
The site then poses brainstorming challenges to stimulate ideas and encourages discussion among participants which may drive further research and development.
There are already some fascinating ideas that have been posted to this particular thread, including one submission that suggests that a set of quadrotors could be used to generate X-ray and thermal imaging to help locate trapped survivors and determine their medical condition.
Individuals on the site are rewarded with achievement badges for their participation, and the site offers real-time leaderboards so you can see how well you’re doing compared to your peers. There are even special achievements handed out by the Air Force project lead for those with truly outstanding contributions to the program.
The site is definitely a great idea, taking a cue from the popularity of crowdsourcing, and applying it to real-world challenges the military faces. But it goes beyond simple crowdsourcing and provides a truly collaborative experience where you work with real Airmen to solve problems. The Air Force just isn’t asking for ideas and implementing the best ones, they are working with the students step by step to bring these ideas to fruition. It’s also a great interactive experience for students and an opportunity for them to both contribute and learn from their peers.
If you’d like to check out the site for yourself and start participating, head on over to The Air Force Collaboratory now.