Paul Olexa, a 1st class airman from the U.S. Air Force, used his past experience as a factory manager to create a floor mat designed to reduce foreign object debris that threatens aircraft safety. Olexa pitched his “Mag Rug” idea as an entry to the Spark Tank competition that took place in October at Whiteman Air Force Base, Air Force Global Strike Command said Friday.
The polymer floor mat detects objects via sensors and produces data that helps maintainers locate metallic and non-metallic FOD across various tasks. The Air Force expects the technology to reduce FOD-related maintenance costs, which are at about $4 billion annually.
Students at Texas A&M University are further developing the prototype in partnership with experts from the private sector.