Tecnología e innovación

Air Force Draws ‘Overwhelming’ Response to Public Invitation To Watch Live as Human F-16 Pilot Squares Off Against AI Enemy in Simulated Dogfight

The battle of man vs. machine will take on a new dimension this week as a virtual dogfight is set to take place between an F-16 pilot and an artificial intelligence enemy.

But you had to have acted early. Due to “overwhelming interest,” registration closed early for the event, which is scheduled to take place from Tuesday through Thursday.

During the preliminary rounds of combat, artificial intelligence algorithms will control simulated F-16 fighters in a series of fights between AI pilots.

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On Thursday, an Air Force fighter pilot flying a virtual reality F-16 simulator will take on the king of the AI aces, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency stated in an Aug. 7 news release.

Excited to see see the IAF pilot will battel AI in a virtual f16 dogfight next week. pic.twitter.com/AnLemsd87M

— Er. Abhishek singhal (@nicknameabhi111) August 14, 2020

In a 2019 DARPA release, Air Force Lt. Col. Dan Javorsek, program manager for the Air Combat Evolution program, outlined why the event matters for the future of the Air Force.

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“We envision a future in which AI handles the split-second maneuvering during within-visual-range dogfights, keeping pilots safer and more effective as they orchestrate large numbers of unmanned systems into a web of overwhelming combat effects,” he said.

The release noted that “No AI currently exists, however, that can outduel a human strapped into a fighter jet in a high-speed, high-G dogfight.”

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“As modern warfare evolves to incorporate more human-machine teaming, DARPA seeks to automate air-to-air combat, enabling reaction times at machine speeds and freeing pilots to concentrate on the larger air battle.”

The release declared that the future of aerial combat will require a new set of skills in which AI can play a role.

“Turning aerial dogfighting over to AI is less about dogfighting, which should be rare in the future, and more about giving pilots the confidence that AI and automation can handle a high-end fight,” it stated.

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“To accelerate the transformation of pilots from aircraft operators to mission battle commanders — who can entrust dynamic air combat tasks to unmanned, semi-autonomous airborne assets from the cockpit — the AI must first prove it can handle the basics.”

This week’s event, the AlphaDogfight Trials, will feature eight teams that were selected last year to compete.

“Regardless of whether the human or machine wins the final dogfight, the AlphaDogfight Trials is all about increasing trust in AI,” Javorsek said in the Aug. 7 release.

“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.”

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— Heinz V. Hoenen (@HeinzVHoenen) August 15, 2020

The climax of the week’s events will be the AI-pilot matchup, which is scheduled for Thursday between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. EDT.

DARPA said that a “multi-view format will afford viewers comprehensive perspectives of the dogfights in real-time and feature experts and guests from the Control Zone, akin to a TV sports commentary desk.”

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