Autonomous equipment could mitigate risk, increase productivity for airfield operations Published Aug. 9, 2022 By Craig Z. Rodarte AFIMSC Public Affairs With his idea for autonomous airfield operations, Craig Rednour, a member of the 375th Civil Engineer Squadron at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, is one of eight finalists for the 2022 Innovation Rodeo. (U.S. Air Force graphic illustration by Jim Martinez) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res – Maintenance can be a mundane, time-consuming endeavor. Craig Rednour, a project execution section supervisor with the 375th Civil Engineer Squadron at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, evaluated the time and risk involved with airfield maintenance and is proposing a win-win solution for the Air Force. One of eight finalist for the 2022 Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Innovation Rodeo, Rednour wants to introduce more autonomous technology to airfield maintenance operations. He believes this technology will not only mitigate the risk Airmen are exposed to during daily operations, but also free up valuable time for Airmen to spend on more mission-critical duties. He provided some insight to autonomous airfield operations and shared his thoughts about representing his squadron in San Antonio for the AFIMSC Innovation Rodeo. Q: What is the name of your idea? Autonomous Airfield Operations Q: What is the problem you’re solving? Reducing the number of Airmen and man hours required to maintain airfield operations. Q: What is your solution to that problem? Providing autonomous (self-operating) equipment, that could be proven to perform daily duties, thus reducing Airmen man-hours and risk on the airfield. These operations can reduce the required number of people required for certain tasks, significantly opening Airmen’s time up for more useful duties. Q: How did you come up with the idea? A team of Airmen in the 375th CES conceived the idea. Many ideas and methods were discussed prior to focusing on the chosen solution. Q. How will your idea help the Air Force deliver installation and mission support capabilities, improve installations or support families in a better way? Autonomous Airfield Operations can provide many advantages to the Air Force. Not only can it reduce the number of hours currently spent on airfield maintenance, which reduces costs, but it can also mitigate risk by reducing the number of Airmen required on an airfield to complete this mission. Q. How does it feel to be selected as a finalist for the 2022 Innovation Rodeo? It’s a great honor for this team to be selected and for me to be the representative. The team put a great deal of effort into this project, and it’s rewarding to see it get recognized. I hope to show all the hard work the team put into this product to help assure it is a success. Q. You’ll be spending a week in San Antonio, learning from leading innovators, collaborating with industry partners and networking with peers, senior leaders and innovation teams. What are you hoping to gain from that experience? What I hope to take away from this experience is more innovative thought processes and the ability to think outside of the box. Learning from the innovation teams and industry partners will provide meaningful insight to help move this product forward and gain acceptance. Q: Why do you think innovation and a culture change that empowers Airmen and Guardians is important in today’s Air and Space Forces? Innovation in any industry is key to ensuring we stay in the forefront and on top. This is especially true when it comes to the Air and Space Force. Innovation and the willingness to change will help drive the future and inspire the next generation to push the envelope to do the same. We don’t want to get stuck in the, “We’ve never done it that way,” rut and never develop new ideas or push forward. The 2022 AFIMSC Innovation Rodeo will be streamed live on Aug. 19. For more information on the rodeo, visit https://www.afimsc.af.mil/innovationrodeo/.