Chatbot aims to simplify the lives of DAF personnel and families

  • Published
  • By London Prince
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

Varlin Sheffey, computer scientist for the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, and Tech. Sgt. Jeremiah Grenfell, noncommissioned officer in charge of system maintenance for the Combined Force Space Component Command at Cheyenne Mountain Space Force Station, Colorado, propose using Artificial Intelligence to provide instant, accurate and easy-to-navigate information from all base websites.

Their idea is Base Buddy AI, a 24/7 artificial intelligence enabled chatbot that will give users prompt and accurate information, and it earned them a spot at this year’s AFIMSC Innovation Rodeo.

We asked them a few questions about their idea, innovation and thoughts about coming to San Antonio for the AFIMSC Innovation Rodeo.

Q: What is the name of your project? 
Base Buddy AI

Q: Please briefly describe your idea: 
Sheffey: Base Buddy AI will serve as a 24/7 digital assistant, providing real-time answers to queries and connecting users with relevant resources. This will significantly reduce the time and stress of navigating multiple websites.
Grenfell: Base Buddy AI utilizes large language models to assist personnel in navigating the vast amounts of data that is publicly available quickly and accurately.

Q. How will your idea help the Air Force deliver installation and mission support capabilities, improve installations or support families in a better way?
Sheffey: Base Buddy AI will serve as a standalone application and as an embedded widget for Department of the Air Force, or DAF, websites. This AI-enabled application will curate and return accurate information efficiently to users limiting the need to search numerous websites aimlessly.
Grenfell: It will help by ensuring prompt, accurate information of those capabilities get to individuals without the hassle of needless searching.

Q. How does it feel to be selected as a finalist for the 2023 Innovation Rodeo?
Sheffey: It feels amazing to have a chance to present a solution that could have a DAF or Department of Defense-level impact.
Grenfell: It feels amazing to be given the opportunity to present something that could be implemented DAF wide is surreal.

Q. As a finalist, you’ll be 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?
Sheffey: I am hoping to learn, share ideas and network with those with different experiences from myself to better shape the scope of Base Buddy AI. This group of innovators will allow me to construct a better application that will have more impact than if it was just the brainchild of my own.
Grenfell: My hope is to gain insight from those I get to work with. The more you expand your horizons and experience new perspectives, the better you become. To me, connection is at the heart of everything.  

Q: Why do you think innovation and a culture change that empowers Airmen and Guardians is important in today’s Air and Space Force?
Sheffey: I believe no one knows the innovations needed better than the Airmen and Guardians that deal with the day-to-day troubles of working with our current technologies. Fostering in-house growth for innovation is essential to DAF needs. 
Grenfell: I believe we are at a crossroads. We are past the days we could afford to have our DAF members not contribute beyond their core duties. There is some much untapped talent out there and its time we empowered those individuals and embrace a new culture.

Q: Is there anything you would like to add?
Sheffey: The Chief Data Artificial Intelligence Office, or CDAO, has a plan to ensure DAF is on its way to being AI-ready by 2025 and AI-competitive by 2027 by delivering AI-enabled capabilities and establishing a common foundation for scaling AI’s impact. Base Buddy AI will provide a highly visible forward-facing application that takes advantage of both of the CDAO’s principles.

The 2023 AFIMSC Innovation Rodeo finals will be held July 21 in San Antonio. For more information, visit