DOD SBIR 24.4 Annual

Active
Yes
Status
Open
Release Date
October 3rd, 2023
Open Date
October 3rd, 2023
Due Date(s)
March 31st, 2025
Close Date
March 31st, 2025
Topic No.
A244-P006

Topic

xTechScalable AI

Agency

Department of DefenseN/A

Program

Type: SBIRPhase: BOTHYear: 2024

Summary

The Department of Defense (DOD) is seeking proposals for the topic "xTechScalable AI" as part of the SBIR program. The Army branch is specifically interested in novel and disruptive concepts and technology solutions that can address the vulnerabilities of current machine learning pipelines and models. The goal is to develop comprehensive security models capable of defending against universal AI threat vectors. The Army is prioritizing proposals that focus on systematic testing and evaluation methods, trusted and secure validation and verification strategies, continuous monitoring capabilities, improved transparency and assurance of code and data, and improved telemetry capabilities. The Army will use the xTechScalable AI prize competition to identify small businesses that meet the criteria for award, and only winners of the competition will be eligible to submit a proposal under this topic. The project will have three phases: Phase I involves submitting a Direct to Phase II (DP2) proposal, Phase II involves producing prototype solutions for evaluation by soldiers, and Phase III involves completing the maturation of the technology and producing prototypes for further development and commercialization. The deadline for proposal submission is March 31, 2025. For more information and to submit a proposal, visit the solicitation agency's website at [solicitation_agency_url].

Description

OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Trusted AI and Autonomy; Advanced Computing and Software; Human-Machine Interfaces

OBJECTIVE: xTechScalable AI is seeking novel, disruptive concepts and technology solutions that can assist in tackling the Army’s current needs and apply to current Army concepts.

Current Machine Learning pipelines are vulnerable to manipulation of code, data, labels, and labeling processes that may compromise downstream ML models. While there is increased interest in AI models for the DoD, these models are vulnerable to the same supply chain attacks as any other software component. In addition, AI models are often pretrained, trained, and then retrained on data of unknown provenance. This makes them vulnerable to Adversarial AI techniques like Data Poisoning, AI Trojans, and Label Contamination without breaching DoD-controlled secure environments for data. Attacking models may also cause spillage through revealing critical intelligence. As AI/ML pipeline solutions are advanced and scaled for Army needs, these potential vulnerabilities for AI pipelines and models need to be addressed.

The Army is aware of existing defense mechanisms for specific attack modalities. However, comprehensive models capable of defending against universal AI threat vectors are needed. Security models must also be scalable to meet the rapidly evolving nature of these threat vectors.

While the Army will accept proposals on any Adversarial AI technical challenge requiring the application of scalable AI techniques like MLOps, the Army will prioritize submissions addressing the following core need areas for award:

Systematic testing and evaluation methods that assess defense capabilities of security systems for AI models;
Trusted and secure validation and verification strategies to ensure that training data is not positioned or inaccurate;
Continuous monitoring capabilities to secure development of models throughout the ML lifecycle;
Improved methods of transparency and assurance of code, data, labels and labeling processes; and
Improved telemetry capabilities that can better observe and track data and information within individual modules of a machine learning pipeline.

 

A prize competition, xTechScalable AI, will be used to identify small business concerns that meet the criteria for award. Winners selected from the xTechScalable AI prize competition will be the only firms eligible to submit a proposal under this topic. All other proposals will not be evaluated. See the full xTechScalable AI prize competition RFI here:

https://www.xtech.army.mil/competitions/.

DESCRIPTION: The U.S. Army would like to invite interested entities to participate in the xTechScalable Artificial Intelligence (AI) competition, a forum for eligible small businesses across the U.S. to engage with the Department of Defense (DOD), earn prize money and potentially participate in the 2024 SxSW conference in March and submit for a Direct to Phase II Army Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award.

The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology recognizes that the Army must enhance engagements with small businesses by (1) understanding the spectrum of “world-class” technologies being developed commercially that may benefit the DOD in the artificial intelligence space; (2) integrating the sector of non-traditional innovators into the DOD Science and Technology (S&T) ecosystem; and (3) providing expertise and feedback to accelerate, mature, and transition technologies of interest to the DOD.

PHASE I: This is a Direct to Phase II submission. In order for proposers to submit a Direct to Phase II (DP2) proposal, they must provide the justification documentation to substantiate that the scientific and technical merit and feasibility described above has been met and describes the potential military and/or commercial applications. Documentation should include all relevant information including, but not limited to: technical reports, test data, prototype designs/models, and performance goals/results.

PHASE II: Produce prototype solutions that will be easy to operate by a Soldier. These products will be provided to select Army units for further evaluation by the soldiers. In addition, companies will provide a technology transition and commercialization plan for DOD and commercial markets.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Complete the maturation of the company’s technology developed in Phase II to TRL 6/7 and produce prototypes to support further development and commercialization. The Army will evaluate each product in a realistic field environment and provide small solutions to stakeholders for further evaluation. Based on soldier evaluations in the field, companies will be requested to update the previously delivered prototypes to meet final design configuration.

KEYWORDS: xTech; xTechScalable AI; Artificial Intelligence; Machine Learning; Adversarial AI; Data Collection

REFERENCES: https://www.xtech.army.mil/competitions/

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