New York: The U.S. Department of Defense is expanding its work with tech startups, bringing tech executives to work at its Silicon Valley lab and planning a new office in Boston to tap into research happening in that area.
The expansion follows the early success of the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) office, an 8-month old Silicon Valley incubator that is a key part of Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s push to rebuild ties between the military and tech industry according to a news report in pcworld.com.
DIUx will be led by Raj Shah, a former F-16 combat pilot, director of security at Palo Alto Networks and now a tech entrepreneur. Other members of the team include Isaac Taylor, who ran Google X and has worked on Google’s Glass and VR efforts, and Douglas Beck, Apple’s vice president for Americas and Northeast Asia.
Shah provided an example of the kind of tech block that the DIUx hopes to solve.
As an F-16 pilot, he flew combat missions in Iraq but his aircraft didn’t have a GPS system that provided a moving map. That is particularly important when flying near borders, because U.S. aircraft did not want to inadvertently stray into Iranian airspace.
The solution for some pilots was to strap an iPad to their knees, because commercial GPS apps could do something it would take the DOD millions of dollars and months to accomplish, he said.
Carter opened DIUx, in Mountain View, California, to gain early access to new technology, and in the hope that Silicon Valley’s unique way of thinking would rub off on the Pentagon.