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07 Sep 18. Fully autonomous ‘mobile intelligent entities’ coming to the battlefields of the future. Artificial intelligence and autonomy often conjure images of killer robots for the general public and even some in government. But development underway by the Army Research Laboratory toward “mobile intelligent entities” is actually far more practical, said Chief Scientist Alexander Kott. Kott pitched the term, along with the new ARL concept of fully autonomous maneuver, at the second annual Defense News Conference on Wednesday during a panel on artificial intelligence that kept circling back to underlying questions of great power competition.
“Fully autonomous maneuver is an ambitious, heretical terminology,” Kott said. “Fully autonomous is more than just mobility, it’s about decision-making.”
If there is a canon against which this autonomy seems heretical, it is likely the international community’s recent conference and negotiations over how, exactly, to permit or restrict lethal autonomous weapon systems. The most recent meeting of the Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems took place last week in Geneva, Switzerland, and concluded with a draft of recommendations on Aug. 31.
This diplomatic process, and the potential verdict of international law, could check or halt the development of AI-enabled weapons, especially ones where machines select and attack targets without human intervention. That’s the principle objection raised by humanitarian groups like the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, as well as the nations that called for a preemptive ban on such autonomous weapons. But to Kott, in the context of the Army’s own development, the challenge of autonomy is a practical one.
“All know about self-driving cars, all the angst, the issue of mobility … take all this concern and multiply it by orders of magnitude and now you have the issues of mobility on the battlefield,” Kott said. “Mobile, intelligent entities on the battlefield have to deal with a much more unstructured, much less orderly environment than what self-driving cars have to do. This is a dramatically different world of urban rubble and broken vehicles, and all kind of dangers, in which we are putting a lot of effort.”
Throughout the panel, where Kott was joined by Jon Rambeau, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems; Rear Adm. David Hahn of the Office of Naval Research; and Maj. Gen. William Cooley of the Air Force Research Laboratory, the answers skirted around the edges of lethal autonomy — focusing instead on the other degrees of autonomy that will be developed in accordance with the Defense Department’s own policy guidelines mandating human-in-the-loop control.
“As industry then takes on developing some of these highly capable AI-enabled systems, our responsibility is to make sure that we develop within those boundary conditions,” Rambeau said. “This is likely to be a continuous process, as AI is a continuously updated medium and will likely need regular evaluation to make sure it doesn’t develop on its own in malicious or unexpected ways.”
“We don’t know if other participants in the worldwide great power competition will follow suit,” Kott said. “There’s strong suspicion that they may not, but for us, this is the policy.”
However AI develops, whether tightly controlled and regulated, or allowed to more organically process information and reach its own conclusions without constant checks, the presence of AI on battlefields of the future is likely to change how nations fight wars, and maybe even how people understand war itself.
“For the first time in human history, the war-fighting profession, the battlefield of the future will be populated not only by intelligent humans but also by intelligent and largely autonomous entities that are no longer humans,” Kott said. “How are we going to adjust to the introduction of new intelligent beings into battlefield life?” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
05 Sep 18. Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) and Drone Racing League (DRL) today announced an innovation competition, challenging teams to develop artificial intelligence (AI) technology that will enable an autonomous drone to race a pilot-operated drone – and win. Participating teams will compete in a series of challenges for their share of over $2m in prizes. Lockheed Martin Chief Technology Officer Keoki Jackson announced the challenge at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco, kicking off a multi-year partnership with DRL, the global professional circuit for drone racing. The AlphaPilot Innovation Challenge will enlist university students, technologists, coders and drone enthusiasts to push the boundaries of AI, machine learning (ML) and fully autonomous flight.
“At Lockheed Martin, we are working to pioneer state-of-the-art, AI-enabled technologies that can help solve some of the world’s most complex challenges – from fighting wildfires and saving lives during natural disasters to exploring the farthest reaches of deep space,” said Jackson. “Now, we are inviting the next generation of AI innovators to join us with our AlphaPilot Innovation Challenge. Competitors will have an opportunity to define the future of autonomy and AI and help our world leverage these promising technologies to build a brighter future.”
The AlphaPilot challenge aims to accelerate the development and testing of fully autonomous drone technologies. AlphaPilot participants will design an artificial intelligence/machine learning framework, powered by the NVIDIA Jetson platform for AI at the edge, capable of flying a drone – without any pre-programming or human intervention – through challenging multi-dimensional race courses in DRL’s new Artificial Intelligence Robotic Racing (AIRR) Circuit.
“Since 2016, DRL has been the proving ground for the world’s most talented human pilots, showcasing their abilities to race remotely piloted drones at high speeds. This challenge changes the game,” said DRL CEO and Founder Nicholas Horbaczewski. “How close is AI performance to the world’s best human piloting? We’re excited to find out next year when AlphaPilot drones compete in adrenaline-packed, futuristic drone races on complex courses in the AIRR Circuit. Our collaboration with Lockheed Martin will both accelerate AI innovation and redefine the sport of the future.”
The Lockheed Martin AlphaPilot Innovation Challenge will open for entries in November. Selected participants are eligible for over $2m in cash prizes, including an extra $250,000 award for the first team that outperforms a professional DRL human-piloted drone. Undergraduate and graduate students, drone enthusiasts, coders and other technologists interested in learning more and applying to participate can visit lockheedmartin.com/alphapilot.
Lockheed Martin is funding the AlphaPilot Innovation Challenge through savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The corporation is also using savings from tax reform to increase its investments in research and development and capital expenditures, employee training and educational opportunities, investment in technology startups, and STEM education programs.
05 Sep 18. Artificial intelligence expert gets top job at French defense innovation agency. French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly has appointed Emmanuel Chiva, a specialist in artificial intelligence and training simulation, as director of the newly formed agency for defense innovation, the ministry said. Chiva took up the post Sept. 1, when the innovation office was officially set up, the ministry said in a Sept. 4 statement. Parly made the appointment in consultation with Joël Barre, head of the Direction Générale de l’Armement procurement office. The innovation agency will report to the DGA.
The agency will be the key player in a new strategy for innovation, seeking “to bring together all the actors in the ministry and all the programs which contribute to innovation in defense,” Parly said in an Aug. 28 speech to a conference held by Medef, an employers’ association.
The innovation office will be open to Europe, while allowing experiments to stay close to their operational users, she said.
Parly has set a budget of €1bn (U.S. $1.2bn) for the agency, which will seek to coordinate attempts to apply new technology to military applications.
Chiva has more than 20 years of experience in AI and training simulation. He previously held a senior post for strategy and development at Agueris, a specialist in training simulation for land weapon systems.
Agueris is a unit of CMI Defence, a Belgian company specializing in guns and turrets for armored vehicles. Agueris was on the CMI stand at the Eurosatory trade show for land weapons in June. Agueris held three conferences on AI, with Chiva speaking at a roundtable debate on innovation.
Chiva is a graduate of Ecole Normal Supérieure and a specialist in biomathematics, the study of the application of math to biology.
“His appointment perfectly illustrates my vision of defense innovation: open to research and the civil economy, in which entrepreneurship is not a concept but a reality,” Parly said. (Source: Defense News)
05 Sep 18. RAF to upgrade Eurofighter Typhoon with Tornado capabilities. The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) is set to integrate the capabilities of Tornado multirole fighter aircraft onto the Eurofighter Typhoon combat jet by December. Carried out under the Project Centurion programme, the upgrades will enable the Typhoon jets to remain at the forefront of combat air capability in Europe for several decades. In a statement to media, RAF air commodore Linc Taylor said: “We have delivered Project Centurion differently through a new partnering approach with industry and we are doing more than ever before, faster than ever before.”
The Project Centurion programme has been designed to integrate additional advanced complex weapons on to the Eurofighter platform.
Weapons to be integrated include the deep strike cruise missile Storm Shadow, the beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missile Meteor, as well as the unique low-collateral, precision attack missile Brimstone.
Taylor added: “In the future, we will be bringing in next-generation precision strike stand-off missiles like Spear Cap 3, expendable active decoys, a new E Scan radar, and a new helmet.”
“We are learning and delivering new technologies in concert with Typhoon. And if we develop a capability within the Future Combat Air System Technology Initiative (FCAS TI) programme we can spin it back into Typhoon.”
Manufactured by a consortium comprising Airbus Defence & Space, BAE Systems and Leonardo Aircraft Division, the Eurofighter Typhoon is a swing-role combat aircraft that has the capability of carrying up to six bombs, in addition to six missiles, a cannon, and a targeting pod. The aircraft features sufficient processing power that helps support missile in-flight updates and bomb in-flight targeting simultaneously. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
05 Sep 18. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has successfully completed the Critical Design Review (CDR) phase of the U.S. Navy’s WSN-12 Inertial Sensor Module and will begin production of ten pre-production units. The WSN-12 is poised to become the primary shipboard inertial navigation system for most U.S. combatant vessels and will be installed on all vessels of the DDG, CG, CVN and SSN classes. The system brings new technology and improved accuracy to these platforms. The Inertial Sensor Module is a primary subsystem of the WSN-12, and includes the inertial sensors, electromechanical equipment supporting them and software to compute the navigation solution. The shipboard inertial navigation system measures, computes and distributes navigation data to all users, including attitude, velocity and position information.
“Northrop Grumman has met or exceeded objectives in all aspects of the sensor design and was able to demonstrate performance in the testing of the engineering development models,” said Captain Jon Garcia, NAVSEA IWS6.0.“We are looking forward to successful integration testing this year and receiving the sensor pre-production units next year.”
“Completion of this CDR keeps this program on track to deliver exceptional navigation accuracy to the fleet,” said Todd Leavitt, vice president, maritime systems, Northrop Grumman. “The WSN-12 Inertial Sensor Module provides technology that enables improvements to navigation accuracy and reliability, benefiting all systems that depend upon it.”
05 Sep 18. Safran, CNRS and University of Poitiers set up PRIMEO a joint research lab in Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Safran Electronics & Defense Chief Executive Officer Martin Sion, CNRS Executive Officer for the development and University of Poitiers President Yves Jean inaugurated their joint lab, PRIMEO (for “Partnership for Research and Innovation in Emerging Materials for phOtonics”) in Poitiers on September 5th 2018. This inauguration took place in the presence of Nouvelle-Aquitaine region Vice-president Bernard Uthurry and President of Grand Poitiers Communauté Urbaine Alain Claeys. PRIMEO will conduct research on innovative materials and processes to apply deposits on optical components, which may in due course be used on cameras, binoculars, telescopes and other products to boost their performance and sharpen their competitive edge. The lab will be tasked with bringing fundamental research and possible industrial applications closer together, with a view to gaining agility and efficiency, and thereby building competitive advantages. This partnership will identify, optimize and fast-track possible transfers between fundamental research findings and expertise at Institut P’ on the one hand, and industrial applications on Safran Electronics & Defense products on the other. The goal is to give all partners the resources to grow strong together, become more competitive, and grow.
Academic research will focus on studying innovative materials and researching new physical properties that may lead to step changes in technology and create differentiating value in civil and military products. The technology developments revolve around processes to deposit thin layers (in the single-digit nanometer range) on optical components (lenses, mirrors, etc.) to upgrade their performance and lower production costs.
Work at PRIMEO labs will be funded equally by both partners and the team will comprise over a dozen people (researchers, engineers, PhD students and interns). They will also work on concrete projects and tender them at regional, national or European levels with a view to speeding up innovation, building skills and creating jobs in local academic and industrial circles.
“Safran Electronics & Defense and Institut P’ have worked together on many early-stage technology developments in photonics and optronics, and filed several patents in the process, over the past eight-plus years. I am delighted with the realization of this partnership which marks a new phase and allows us to envisage major innovations in photonics.” said Safran Electronics & Defense Chief Executive Officer Martin Sion.
“The partnership with Safran Electronics & Defense is old and trong. The creation of this new joint laboratory will strengthen the shared potential for research and innovation in the strategic field of materials and optronics,” explained University of Poitiers President Yves Jean.
“The CNRS believes strongly in these places of co-construction of innovation and mixing of two cultures that have sometimes ignored each other. Here it is not the case since it is another step on the way of an already longstanding and fruitful relationship between the academic world and Safran” added CNRS Executive Officer for valorization Michel Mortier.
05 Sep 18. BAE Systems draws on motorsport experience to revolutionise cockpit development. Key Points:
- Williams has built a transformable cockpit structure to help BAE Systems experiment with training approaches and assess new cockpit technologies
- The cockpit tool is part of a holistic approach BAE Systems is taking to improve products and training solutions, using team-based lessons from motorsport
BAE Systems is completing integration work on a new cockpit simulator, which it plans to use as a “sandpit for innovation”, chief technologist Julia Sutcliffe told Jane’s. The cockpit structure was designed and built by Williams Advanced Engineering using skills and methodologies honed by the Williams Formula 1 team. According to Williams’ technical director, Paul McNamara, the design was influenced by the modularity of construction and heavily metricated human factors teamwork that is required for fast pit stops. This modularity will enable engineers to reconfigure the physical cockpit layout, controls, and components to replicate legacy aircraft such as the Hawk and Typhoon, swiftly tailor them for a range of pilot builds, and to experiment with innovative layouts and systems that might feed into the new Tempest future fighter programme, using live feedback from aircrew and engineers.
Rather than being used in a traditional aircrew training simulator role, Sutcliffe explained that the new cockpit is designed to be an experimental “workhorse” to support BAE Systems’ technology development and product roadmaps for a range of technologies and platforms.
She added that “we wanted the ability to experiment with layouts that we can quickly reconfigure – front and back – without having to duck underneath [the cockpit installation] and reconnect wires and all sorts of stuff.”
Stuart Olden, business development manager at Williams, told Jane’s that this was underpinned by motorsport experience, with the company’s whole-system design approach “enabling the maintainers and the operators of the simulator to gain access quickly to particular components to swap in, swap out, and change elements around”. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/IHS Jane’s)
03 Sep 18. US Navy and USMC jets to receive RNP-RNAV capabilities. Rockwell Collins is to provide the US Navy and the US Marine Corps (USMC) jets with safety-critical Required Navigation Performance Area Navigation (RNP-RNAV) capabilities. The RNP-RNAV capabilities will be delivered under a contract issued by the US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Air Combat Electronics program office (PMA-209). Under the deal, Rockwell will be responsible for delivering its Mission Flight Management Software (MFMS-1000) and Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance (LPV) Calculator (LPVC-1000) applications to the US Navy and the USMC.
The new applications will help aircraft meet RNP-RNAV requirements and obtain global airspace access while carrying out global positioning system (GPS) approach procedures. The procedures enhance airspace utilisation and reduce congestion, delays and fuel burn while increasing safety by ensuring precise aircraft navigation.
Rockwell Collins senior director Heather Robertson said: “Pilots will now be able to comply with civil flight procedures while operating in the continental US, Europe and other areas of the world where adherence to the latest communication, navigation, surveillance and air traffic management rules are required.
“The MFMS-1000 software is also certified conformant to the FACE Technical Standard, resulting in a hardware-agnostic solution portable to any avionics system. This will be the first time military aircraft will have a low risk means to implement RNP-RNAV compliance without the need for an expensive and time-consuming avionics system upgrade.”
The MFMS-1000 application has been designed to meet all of the functional requirements of the US Navy, in addition to offering additional features for future applications. (Source: naval-technology.com)
Oxley Group Ltd
Oxley specialises in the design and manufacture of advanced electronic and electro-optic components and systems for air, land and sea applications within the military sector. Established in 1942, Oxley has manufacturing facilities in the UK and USA and enjoys representation worldwide. The company’s products include night vision and LED lighting, data capture systems and electronic components. Oxley has pioneered the development of night vision compatible lighting. It offers a total package incorporating optical filters, equipment modification, cockpit and external lighting along with fleet wide upgrade services including engineering, installation, support, maintenance and training. The company’s long experience of manufacturing night vision lighting and LED indicators, coupled with advances in LED technology, has enabled it to develop LED solutions to replace incandescent and fluorescent lighting in existing applications as well as becoming the lighting option of choice in new applications such as portable military hospitals, UAV control stations and communication shelters.