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AI and Drones – Inside DARPA’s Simulated Drone Finale

image of AI and Drones Against Top Fighter Jet Pilot

AI and Drones vs. Top Fighter Jet Pilot

Since the Vietnam War, U.S. fighters have shot down 58 enemy planes. In that span of time, only one U.S. pilot has lost an airborne skirmish, but the combination of AI and drones may be changing all that.

From an article in The Daily Beast by David Axe.

In other words, a highly-trained human being can still make a fearsome aerial warrior. But the scientists at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Pentagon’s fringe-science outfit, have long had a hunch that a drone might do even better. To test that theory, DARPA organized a computer-simulated war game between bots and one nervous human pilot.

That war game came to a close recently with a dramatic (digital) head-on fight between an A.I. and a flesh-and-blood flier.

Modern military drones mostly fly surveillance and ground-attack missions. The U.S. military wants a new generation of fast drones to handle air-to-air missions, too. But dogfights can be quick and chaotic. It has long been conventional wisdom that it would take a very clever artificial intelligence to defeat a quick-thinking human pilot.

In early 2019, DAPRA recruited eight teams of coders to develop special A.I. for aerial warfare. The competitors in the AlphaDogfight program included major defense firms such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing, smaller companies such as Maryland-based Heron Systems, and scrappy squads from schools such as Georgia Tech.

In a series of trials beginning late last year, the agency pitted the eight A.I.s against each other as well as against a generic simulated enemy fighter developed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. The Johns Hopkins lab hosted the AlphaDogfight trials at its facility in Laurel, Maryland.

The contest “really feels like an e-sports event,” Tim Grayson, the director of DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office, which oversees AlphaDogfight, said at the time. The mock dogfights played out in a Flight Simulator-esque digital world. Red and blue icons representing bot-controlled F-16 fighters turned, climbed, dived, and shot at each other.

To P.W. Singer, an analyst at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. and author of the novel Burn-In, the AlphaDogfight war game was “a John Henry-versus-the-steam-engine moment.”

That is to say, it hinted at a massive shift in how war is practiced.

“There is a nobility to the human role, but it symbolically points to a future of more and more machines in more and more roles,” Singer told The Daily Beast.

Early results at the Johns Hopkins lab were mixed for the AI and drones machines, however.

For the complete article CLICK HERE.

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