Booz Allen, Galvanize, and Topcoder Bring Together Tech Industry and Government for #HACKtheSKY Swarm Drone Hackathon to Solve US Navy’s Toughest Challenges

Jul 5, 2016 3:00 PM ET
#HACKtheSKY Hackathon Team BigMac, composed of Booz Allen Hamilton and Navy participants, pose with the Under Secretary of the US Navy, Dr. Janine Davidson, after pitching a winning Multi-Cast solution.

Last year, the US Navy broke the world record for flying 50 autonomous drones with a single operator. Last weekend, the US Navy hosted their first event hackathon, #HACKtheSKY. Over the course of 72 hours, 220 data scientists, developers, cyber experts, and Navy subject matter experts tackled the Naval Postgraduate School and Department of Navy Innovation’s toughest Unmanned Aerial Vehicle challenges.

“This hackathon is about cyber security and autonomy,” said CDR Zachary Staples, Director of the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Cyber Warfare. “These are two of the major trends guiding the future of our civilization. So if we can build diverse teams of industry, academia, government, and science to create new ideas at that intersection then we will have a more diverse ecosystem of experts working to solve our country’s and our world’s most pressing problems.”

The event included three unique components: a hackathon looking at the security and algorithms of a swarm; the Future of Autonomy Workshop that used design thinking to iterate the problem into the next two decades; and a Rapid User Experience (RUX) Design Challenge run by Topcoder that challenged their community to develop innovative Drone Swarm command and control. The Hackathon and Future of Autonomy Workshop were both hosted on Galvanize’s San Francisco campus.

Judges and mentors from leading tech industry and Department of Defense organizations included the Naval Postgraduate School, Pivitol, PARC, Bunker Labs, and Stanford Hack4Defense. Challenge teams came up with 12 hackathon solutions, and the winning teams received three prizes:


#HACKtheSKY Hackathon Results

The Under Secretary of the US Navy, Honorable Dr. Janine Davidson, personally awarded each of the winning teams with coins.


Hackathon Challenge #1: Improve Wireless Authentication Over Wifi Multicast

Winner: Team BigMac (Booz Allen Hamilton and Navy)


Hackathon Challenge #2: Develop Security Measures for the Robotic Operating Systems (ROS)

Winner: Team Threat Level Midnight (Navy, Army, and Silicon Valley Industry Participants)


Hackathon Challenge #3: Develop Solutions for Cooperative Search Capabilities

Winner: Team Alcatraz (Naval Postgraduate School and Academia)


Check out this highlight video to learn more about how #HACKtheSKY bridged the gap between the brightest minds from Silicon Valley, the military and government-funded engineering organizations to start solving some of the most vexing problems in the drone space: