Innovation Challenge

innovation challenge

What is the Innovation Challenge?

The Innovation Challenge is an opportunity for small, start-up and early stage companies operating in the commercial, defense, and non-traditional unmanned systems or autonomous systems spheres to present their technology to government and industry representatives at Unmanned Systems— Defense. Protection. Security. (USDPS).

AUVSI is no longer accepting proposals for the Innovation Challenge.

USDPS Advisory Panel

Orin Hoffman Orin Hoffman
Autonomy and Robotics HQE
Frank Kelley
Frank Kelley
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Unmanned Systems (DASN (UxS))
JC Lede
JC Ledé
Acting Deputy Director
Tactical Technology Office
Bob Sadowski Bob Sadowski
Chief Roboticist
U.S. Army

During the Innovation Challenge, on Wednesday, February 7, 2018, five finalists will pitch their technology to the USDPS audience and the esteemed Advisory Panel, featuring Orin Hoffman, Frank Kelley, JC Ledé and Bob Sadowski.

Each finalist will have six minutes to pitch their technology and four minutes to answer questions from the Innovation Challenge Advisory Panel. The panel will provide feedback and guidance, but the final choice will be left to the USDPS audience.

Competing in the Innovation Challenge offers startups the chance to present their ideas to the community and establish themselves as a premier innovator!

Members of the USDPS Executive Committee will review applications and select five finalists to compete in the Innovation Challenge at USDPS.

All applicants will be notified of their selection status by Wednesday, January 3, 2018.


The 2018 USDPS Innovation Challenge Winner

Ghost winner

Congratulations to Ghost Robotics for winning the first inaugural Innovation Challenge!


Meet the Finalists

Competing in the Innovation Challenge offers startups the chance to present their ideas to the community and establish themselves as a premier innovator!


SynCity is a hyper realistic simulator designed to accelerate the development and deployment of autonomous applications with 3D modelling for machine learning. Constructing complex scenarios and simulating sensors in various weather conditions and in real-time, we generate highly entropic, synthetic datasets to train models and validate algorithms.


Overwatch Imaging creates customized payloads for Group 2-3 UAS. Our tactical mapping systems combine high-resolution multi-band cameras in SWaP-efficient stabilized gimbals, and leverage real-time onboard computer vision and AI software to automatically extract targets of interest, allowing our customers to find the needle in the haystack.

ghost robotics

Ghost Robotics is building the next-generation legged UGV platform to tackle any unstructured terrain and manipulate the environment with a low cost, size-scalable, high-endurance and easily operated ground drone for defense, security, public safety and enterprise applications.


Planck Aero builds intelligent systems for next generation drone autonomy. We lead the industry in mobile truck-based and vessel-based drone technologies. Our software enables fully-autonomous precision drone landings on moving vehicles and vessels. Our computer vision products automate real-time object recognition and orthomosaicing over water.

sub uas

SubUAS LLC was founded in 2016 to commercialize the Naviator, a scalable unmanned system that can both fly and swim, and seamlessly transit between the two mediums (<2 seconds). Prototype vehicles have demonstrated air/water operations in ocean, bridge and ferry locations under ONR STTR funding.


Please contact Katie Cooper with any questions or concerns.

Sponsored by namc