Military Embedded Systems

DARPA to hold aerial combat simulation between F-16 pilots and AI


August 10, 2020

Emma Helfrich

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Lockheed Martin photo.

WASHINGTON. An aerial combat simulation between an F-16 pilot and an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm is part of the government-sponsored "Alpha Dog Trials". Teams from eight defense contractors are scheduled to be involved in flying simulated F-16 fighter planes against AI-controlled planes in aerial combat, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), said Friday.

The teams will then fight each other in a round-robin format, followed by a matchup between the top AI and an experienced Air Force fighter pilot flying a virtual reality F-16 simulator. The simulated dogfights are part of a DARPA three-day competition, now in its third year. It will be at the Applied Physics Lab of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, it will be conducted virtually but will be streamed live in a webinar on ZoomGov, the U.S. government videoconferencing site, officials said.

The trials were designed to energize and expand abase of AI developers for DARPA's Air Combat Evolution, or ACE, program, which attempts to automate air-to-air combat and encourage human trust in AI, in an element of improved human-machine teaming.

The combatants will include teams from Aurora Flight Sciences, EpiSys Science, Georgia Tech Research Institute, Heron Systems, Lockheed Martin, Perspecta Labs, PhysicsAI, and SoarTech.


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