AFWERX, Electro Optics, Technology

USAF Picks Kapono Kinetic as 1 of 250 STTR Wins

The United States Air Force AFWERX program recommended over 250 proposals as part of its X20D Small Business Technology Transfer, or STTR, Open Topic solicitation, of which Kapono Kinetic was selected.

Although the SBIR/STTR Open Topic program demonstrates a three-decade history, the Air Force has, in the last five or so years, restructured the program to refocus on innovative small business.

The streamlined STTR Open Topic process advances and supports small business commercialization efforts by assisting alignment with university research partners, such as qualifying non-profits, academic institutions or federally funded research and development centers.

The Open Topic key difference from the STTR is that any technology or solutions may be submitted for consideration of award. (U.S. Air Force courtesy graphic)

“This is only the fourth STTR Open Topic,” Maj. Jared Evans, AFVentures Program Manager said, “the X20D cohort tracks to be the largest single cohort in program history representing a Phase 1 effort worth over $38 million.”


Col. Nathan P. Diller, AFWERX director underscored an “energy” behind the STTR program initiative that’s created when academia, industry, investors and government unite to accelerate transformative technologies.

To his point, CL Lucas, CEO of Kapono Kinetic says, “It is an opportunity, especially for us Veteran owned companies, to take our service experience, identify technologies within our post military career fields and decipher whether they are good fits for DOD and governmental use.”

The winning STTR proposal from Kapono and their strategic partner Photon-X finds fit within the overall agility prime push, in autonomous navigation, which is a key focus in emerging transport technologies, such as the flying car, and potentially flying transit.

“We are working with encodable markers and Electro Optics which significantly reduce power and weight requirements by utilizing a groundbreaking methodology of information production,” Lucas said. “In fact, the combination of this new EO and the marker technology we are working on functions like a guidepost for navigation with small systems. It may also assist AI with object recognition, which is a research topic Kapono will be investigating with our academic partner, the Autonomous Flight Systems Lab (AFSL) at the University of Washington

The AFWERX Agility Prime initiative, a non-traditional program has the express goal to operationalize “flying cars” for government missions in a way that enhances its introduction into the commercial market.

For more information about the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) and Agility Prime programs visit https://www.afwerx.af.mil. Original story from USAF Press Release.

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