Britain reveals details of two defense AI programs

LONDON — Britain’s Ministry of Defense has unveiled details of two artificial intelligence developments ahead of a global summit aimed at managing the risks posed by the technology.

The two-day summit, which begins on November 1 at the World War II code-breaking center at Bletchley Park, is expected to host UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, US Vice President Kamala Harris, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the UN secretary. General Antonio Guterres, as well as technology industry leaders.

Scenarios at sea

The Ministry of Defense said on October 31 that a beach landing exercise took place in the English Channel, off the coast of Hampshire. The ministry’s Defense Science and Technology Laboratory, with support from the Royal Navy and Army, led the five-day exercise in September.

It included approximately 130 personnel, 13 vessels, multiple UAVs, a light aircraft and more than 50 cameras and sensors used to collect data that could be used by future defense-related artificial intelligence capabilities.

Several US government agencies were also involved, including the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Munitions Directorate. Department of Energy Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. and the Army Combat Development Command Equipment Center supported by Opto-Knowledge Systems.

Industry participants included UK companies BAE Systems and Chess Dynamics. Italian company Leonardo? American company Lockheed Martin; and French contractor Thales.

The beach landing saw personnel enter and exit vehicles in different ways to generate data representative of different behavioral characteristics. In one scenario, the synchronized landings saw participants act as a military unit, while another involved participants exiting vessels in a deliberately chaotic manner to provide a broader sample of human movement data, the State Department said in a statement.

“Innovative, data-driven exercises like this demonstrate how artificial intelligence can enhance our military capabilities, enabling us to respond more effectively to today’s and tomorrow’s threats,” according to Defense Procurement Secretary James Cartledge.

Data captured during the exercise included optical, infrared, sonar and radar information, as well as metadata such as platform and sensor positions, weather and sea states. This data will now help train artificial intelligence algorithms to recognize objects such as other vessels, the ministry explained.

Helicopter maintenance

The Department of State also gave an update on the introduction of a new helicopter support software tool that uses artificial intelligence to improve maintainability and availability.

The software program, known as Motherlode, is able to analyze historical data tailored to the aircraft’s environmental and specific conditions to more accurately predict equipment failures.

Previously lengthy troubleshooting tasks now take mere seconds, the State Department said in a statement. The full capability will be deployed by the end of the year across all Royal Navy helicopters, including the Wildcat and Merlin fleets.

“This is just the beginning of the AI ​​journey for the Fleet Air Arm. There are multiple use cases being explored, leveraging artificial intelligence to improve our data mining capabilities to maximize aircraft availability for frontline operations,” said Cmdr. Nicholas Almond, who commands the Royal Navy’s 1710 Naval Air Squadron, said in the statement.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it is now investigating the possibility of using AI technology in other defense equipment, such as the Foxhound armored patrol vehicle.

Andrew Chuter is the UK correspondent for Defense News.

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