Boeing to develop AI systems with Defence's autonomous research centre

The technologies developed have the potential to be used in unmanned systems for military operations.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

Boeing Australia has partnered with the Trusted Autonomous Systems Defence Cooperative Research Centre (DCRC) to develop artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for unmanned systems for military operations.

One of the first projects between the pair examine an unmanned system's route planning, location, ability to identify objects, and the platform's subsequent behavioural response.

"Over the next 12 months, Boeing Australia will design and test cognitive AI algorithms to enable sensing under anti-access conditions and to navigate and conduct enhanced tactics in denied environments," said Boeing Phantom Works director Shane Arnott.

Boeing will also work with Australian university partners and Brisbane-based supplier RF Designs to flight-test and evaluate the capability of autonomous jets.

It follows on from an announcement the company made last year that Queensland will become the home for its three-year autonomous systems development program.

See also: Is there room for ethics and the law in military AI? (TechRepublic)

Under the program, the aerospace giant plans to develop autonomous systems capabilities to increase the independent operation of air and sea vehicles. It will focus heavily on the regulatory side and has been built on the existing partnership Boeing has with the Shell-operated, Queensland government gas initiative.

At the time, Boeing Autonomous Systems vice president Chris Raymond said basing the company's investment in Queensland would further its relationship with local security forces and Defence.

"We've been really excited about what we've been doing in Queensland ... it's really been a great effort I think, because for anything to advance, it needs resourcing," Raymond said at the time.

"Apart from the financial investment, one thing we've really found here is all the elements of innovation: The university ecosystem, the small to medium-sized enterprise business, the technical providers we have in the supply chain, and then our own Boeing people here.

"We've really found it a great place to combine resources, insights, know-how, and a really like-minded focus for advancing autonomy in Queensland."

The DCRC was launched in 2017 by the Australian government to focus on the development of trusted autonomous systems in partnership with academia, publicly funded research agencies, and industry -- particularly small to-medium enterprises -- in a bid to create an "interlocking research and innovation capability that is focused on driving a Defence outcome".

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