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MoD claims success from trial of AI technologies


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Keyboard and monitor used in trial
Image source: MoD

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has claimed a world first in a ‘collaborative swarm’ use of AI in detecting and tracking military targets.

This follows a trial of AI models from AUKUS (Australia-UK-US) nations at Upavon in Wiltshire in April, in which they were jointly deployed in a representative environment in real time.

The MoD said that accelerating the development of the technologies will have a massive impact on the coalition’s military capabilities.

The trial, organised by the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), achieved world firsts, including the live retraining of models in flight and the interchange of AI models between AUKUS nations.

It took place under the AUKUS Advanced Capabilities Pillar, a trilateral programme of work on a range of leading edge technologies and capabilities to promote security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

Military and civilian

More than 70 military and civilian defence personnel and industry contractors were involved in the exercise, using a variety of air and ground vehicles to test target identification capability.

The teams collaborated to develop joint machine learning  (ML) models, apply test and evaluation processes, and fly on different national unmanned aerial vehicles. The ML models were quickly updated to include new targets and shared among the coalition and AI models retrained to meet changing mission requirements.

Lieutenant General Rob Magowan, UK deputy chief of defence staff, military capability, said: “This trial demonstrates the military advantage of AUKUS advanced capabilities, as we work in coalition to identify, track and counter potential adversaries from a greater distance and with greater speed. Service personnel, scientists and engineers from our three nations combined to develop and share critical information to enhance commanders’ decision making.

“Accelerating technological advances will deliver the operational advantages necessary to defeat current and future threats across the battlespace. We are committed to collaborating with partners to ensure that we achieve this while also promoting the responsible development and deployment of AI.”

The AUKUS collaboration is now looking to rapidly take the technologies into military capabilities.

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