AI will Dogfight a Human Air Force Fighter Pilot This Month
The thought of an artificial intelligence (AI) program operating a fighter jet is a little unnerving. However, that’s exactly what the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is working to achieve. Although the agency won’t host an in-person showing for its third and final AlphaDogfight Trial later this month, it is still a noteworthy event.
Viewers will be able to watch live as an AI program takes on a real Air Force fighter pilot in a virtual dogfight. The matchup will take place on August 20 after a three-day event that will pit multiple AI algorithms against each other.
Virtual Top Gun
DARPA started its AlphaDogfight program to expand its footprint in the unmanned flight world. It wanted to recruit more AI developers to take on the task of developing an algorithm that can safely and successfully control an F-16 fighter jet.
The competition is part of DARPA’s Air Combat Evolution (ACE) program. Its goal is to automate air-to-air combat. Doing so keeps human pilots out of harm’s way during combat situations while allowing the military to fully utilize its world-class fighter jets.
Moreover, the program is meant to build trust between man and machine so that human pilots and AI pilots can fly side-by-side in the future.
The first set of trials took place in November 2019. It featured mostly AI algorithms in the early stages of development.
In January, teams showcased their highly-improved algorithms against programs developed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). That event saw a much higher degree of success from some participants but left plenty of room for improvement.
The third and final trial slated to take place later this month will be the ultimate test for the dogfighting AI algorithms.
What to Expect from Round Three
It’s safe to say that the AlphaDogFight Trial will be an exciting event. Eight teams will pit their algorithms against APL’s AI program on the first day of the competition (August 18). Then, on the second day, they will compete against each other in a bracket-style tournament.
Notably, this is the first time that participants will challenge each other head-to-head with their AIs.
On the final day of the contest, August 20, the top four algorithms will face off in a single-elimination tournament. The winner will claim the title of champion and earn the opportunity to “fly” against a human fighter pilot.
Colonel Dan “Animal” Javorsek, a program manager for DARPA, said, “Regardless of whether the human or machine wins the final dogfight, the AlphaDogfight Trials is all about increasing trust in AI. If the champion AI earns the respect of an F-16 pilot, we’ll have come one step closer to achieving effective human-machine teaming in air combat, which is the goal of the ACE program.”
Those interested in watching the event will need to sign up ahead of time in order to tune in. U.S. citizens can do so until August 17 while those elsewhere will need to sign up by August 11. Registration can be completed on the AlphaDogfight Trials page set up by Johns Hopkins’ APL.
The event should be an exciting one to watch for fans of both fighter jets and AI.
Originally published at https://www.theburnin.com on August 10, 2020.