– The US Air Force is prepared to fly pilot-less aircraft in the upcoming year’s thanks to DARPA’s development of the newest artificial intelligence technology that will aid in operations.
-In less than three years, algorithms for artificial intelligence (AI) created as part of DARPA’s Air Combat Evolution (ACE) program have advanced from commanding virtual F-16s engaged in aerial dogfights on computer screens to commanding a real F-16 in flight.
-The F-16 was updated and converted to a brand-new design that became known as the X-62A Variable In-flight Simulation Test Aircraft, or VISTA. An AI agent recently piloted it for more than 17 hours, marking the first time AI had operated a tactical aircraft.
-The first autonomous Black hawk helicopter demonstration flight was carried out by the US army last October. It was able to operate the unmanned Black Hawk chopper on its own and was safe and reliable for performing rescue missions as well as internal and external cargo replenishment flights. This technology, in particular, may be used in contested or limited visibility settings, giving Army commanders and aviators more options in how and when to use aircraft and pilots.
In an effort to significantly increase the efficiency and safety of rotary and fixed-wing aircraft, Sikorsky and DARPA are collaborating to develop autonomy technology. Aircrew Labor In-cockpit Automation System, a DARPA project, is built around Sikorsky’s autonomy system, also known as MATRIX™ technology.
-The Air Force Test Pilot School (TPS) at Edwards Air Force Base in California is where the F-16 flew numerous times over the course of several days, as per DARPA. According to a US military research organization, the flights successfully showed that AI agents can manage a full-scale fighter jet and offer live-flight data.
The ACE AI flights were part of a successful broader test event including DARPA, TPS, and the Air Force Research Laboratory, enabling multiple Defense Department organizations to work closely together with AI development contractors toward shared objectives.
-DARPA performers EpiSci, PhysicsAI, Shield AI, and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory flew different F-16 AI algorithms on the X-62A. The aircraft, a highly modified two-seat F-16, can be programmed to demonstrate the flight-handling characteristics of a variety of different aircraft types. VISTA was upgraded recently with the System for Autonomous Control of Simulation (SACS), making the aircraft a perfect platform to test ACE’s autonomous F-16 AI agents.
-The two-seat L-29 jets at OPL are outfitted with sensors in the cockpit to measure pilot physiological responses, giving researchers clues as to whether the pilot is trusting the AI or not. The TPS recently hosted an ACE Trust Capstone event in late January 2023 using simulators to gauge pilot-agent alignment with follow-on trust-calibration flights in the X-62A planned for later this year.