The Air Force wants you to think of this experiment as a "high-tech sandbox."
During Tech Warrior 2016, a 10-day event in August run by the Air Force Research Lab at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, industry and Air Force experts came together at the National Center for Medical Readiness to better simulate the combat environment and what airmen need -- from resources to the latest technology -- in any given situation.
The event presented various scenarios, including airmen coming under sniper fire during a search-and-rescue mission for a downed pilot. Up above, remotely piloted aircraft circled the area to observe the scene.
Researchers and officials from Ohio-based The Design Knowledge Co. played out this scenario on the company's 4-D Common Operating Picture for Mission Assurance platform, or a system that "allows various information sources -- such as video feeds, weather and [geographical information system] information -- to be layered onto video displays for advanced situational awareness," according to an Air Force release.
"You have to get yourself into this environment to truly test the feasibility of your concept," said Eric Loomis, vice president of The Design Knowledge Co., in the release. "With Tech Warrior, we get to embed our technology experts in the actual operational environment. They get to sit with the warfighter and understand better how our tools and technology might be used. It allows us to experience things we hadn't thought about."
Some of these systems and demonstrations were developed or sponsored under the Air Force Small Business Innovation Research Program, or SBIR, the Air Force said.
This year, with new funding from the program, Tech Warrior "brought remotely piloted aircraft to the site so companies demonstrating their technology could plug into feeds coming from the [drones] as they flew overhead," the release said.
The point is to push the limits and see what technology can do.
One company, Edaptive Computing, also from Ohio, brought HARVEST, which stands for Human and Cyber-Physical Agents for Recognition and Visualization of Systems Data.
Because the cyber and data realms are growing more complex, the data that humans normally analyze is too. HARVEST's job is to automate and analyze the information, often coming from sensors and other source platforms, according to Edaptive Computing's website. The company won a $1 million Defense Department contract last year.
"I think we have a much better picture of how to target our solution," said Adam Langdon, director of research and development for Edaptive Computing. "We're already talking about potential integration with other technologies [at Tech Warrior] next year to do even more realistic demonstrations."