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Artificial intelligence copilot flew a US military plane for the first time

It was the first time ever that an AI has controlled a US military plane. Over a million training runs were completed before the final flight. It marked a significant step towards the digitalization of the US military. 

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The United States Air Force for the time flew an artificial intelligence (AI) copilot on a military plane U-2 spy on 15th December in California. US Air Force made history as it was the first time ever that an AI has controlled a US military plane. Over a million training runs were completed before the final flight. It marked a significant step towards the digitalization of the US military. 

Maj “Vudu” flew the U-2 Dragon Lady with ARTUµ, an artificial intelligence algorithm. The algorithm was developed in a way that it performs in-flight functions that pilots perform otherwise.

“ARTUµ’s groundbreaking flight culminates our three-year journey to becoming a digital force. Putting AI safely in command of a U.S. military system for the first time ushers in a new age of human-machine teaming and algorithmic competition. Failing to realize AI’s full potential will mean ceding decision advantage to our adversaries,” said Dr. William Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology, and logistics.

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The pilot was coordinating with the artificial intelligence on sensor operation, while ARTUµ was overseeing tactical navigation and sensor employment. The pilot had to ensure there were no threatening aircraft and the algorithm had to look for any enemy launchers. This scenario was created for the mission. To test the artificial intelligence, it was set against another computer algorithm in the scenario.

“We know that in order to fight and win in a future conflict with a peer adversary, we must have a decisive digital advantage,” said Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr, Air Force Chief of Staff. “AI will play a critical role in achieving that edge, so I’m incredibly proud of what the team accomplished. We must accelerate change and that only happens when our Airmen push the limits of what we thought was possible.”

Artificial intelligence technology is developed in such a way by the U-2 Federal Laboratory that it has the ability to be further improved as well as be transferred to other systems. The U-2 Federal Laboratory will set up the 20th Accreditation Program which has been approved by the National Institute of Standards and Technology to promote “edge development.”

“Blending expertise of a pilot with capabilities of machine learning, this historic flight directly answers the National Defense Strategy’s call to invest in autonomous systems,” said Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force. “Innovations in artificial intelligence will transform both the air and space domains.”

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