An artificial intelligence managed to pilot an American F-16

US military technologies have just passed a new stage. Darpa, the federal agency responsible for research and development for the army, has developed an artificial intelligence capable of piloting an F-16 autonomously. The system has been successfully tested in real conditions, announced the administration Monday, February 13, 2023.

Several algorithms tested

The tests conducted on the fighter aircraft are part of the ACE program (evolution of air combat), which aims to “develop trusted, scalable, human-grade, AI-driven autonomy for aerial combat”. In reality, the military from Darpa and TPS, the air force research laboratory, tested several AI systems capable of making an aircraft fly. The algorithms are notably developed in collaboration with civil society companies, including EpiSci, PhysicsAI, Shield AI and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

The AI ​​was implanted into the heart of the system of a specially modified F-16, known as the X-62A or VISTA, at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The tests were carried out over several days and successfully demonstrated that artificial intelligence is capable of piloting a fighter plane in complete autonomy. During the tests, a pilot was on board to possibly regain control of the aircraft.

“We made several outings [décollages et atterrissages] with numerous test points for each exit to test the algorithms under different starting conditions, against various simulated adversaries and with simulated weapon capabilities”says Air Force Lt. Col. Ryan Hal Hefron, who is responsible for the program.

Different results from the simulation

During the tests, no major problem would have been detected, although the results in real conditions are different from those obtained in simulation. “This underscores the importance of not just flight testing advanced autonomous capabilities, but doing so on testbeds like VISTA, which allowed us to quickly learn lessons and iterate at a much faster pace. faster”assures the lieutenant-colonel.

At the same time, the Air Force training center is trying to measure the pilots’ confidence in these new systems, if they were to be used for visual air combat (of the dog fight). With AI navigation control, the pilot could take care of more essential tasks like cockpit combat management, Darpa claims. The hour of fighter planes without humans, totally automated, does not seem to be about to ring yet.

Related Articles

Back to top button