The Pentagon wants to bring the same low-cost drone technology behind aerial wedding photos or extreme skiing videos to the battlefield. But it needs the private sector’s help to do so at a time of rising tension between Silicon Valley and Washington.
Defense officials hope the new initiative, dubbed “Project Phoenix,” will help jump-start cooperation with the tech industry, which has been grappling with a groundswell of moral objections to the use — or potential misuse — of their innovations for warfare.
But the Pentagon wants to convert the disbelievers. Orin Hoffman, who is running Project Phoenix, called on companies — especially tech start-ups — to submit proposals for drone technology that is so inexpensive that troops can spy on enemies without worrying about damaging or losing the drones. The Defense Innovation Unit is reviewing proposals for physical drones as well as software that would produce 3-D maps or