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DARPA Names Participants for UAS Aerial Combat Algorithm Prototyping Effort

MQ-9 UAV
MQ-9 UAV

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has awarded contracts to five research and industry entities to develop manned and unmanned aerial combat maneuvering concepts as part of the agency's Air Fight Evolution initiative.

DARPA said that Boeing, EpiSci, physicsAI, Heron Systems and Georgia Tech Research Institute will work to create autonomous “aerial dogfighting“ algorithms designed for individual- and group-based tactical behaviors under the ACE program's Technical Space 1 category.

TA1 covers synthetic intelligence approaches for one-on-one, two-on-one, or two-and-two aerial battles within visual range. 

The contractors will conduct modeling and simulation as well as subscale unmanned flights as part of TA1, which will culminate in a full-scale consultant plane flight in 2023.

According to DARPA, the ACE program comes as part of efforts to scale autonomous tactical technologies for multi-aircraft and simulated dogfighting operations.

The agency previously selected SoarTech and Calspan for TA2 and TA4, respectively, to demonstrate human-machine interfaces for aerial dogfighting activities.

Lockheed Martin and Leidos' Dynetics subsidiary are contractors for TA3 and will work to train analytics for processing TA1 algorithms for multi-aircraft settings.

In August, DARPA and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory conducted the three-day AlphaDogfight Trials to assess the capacity of industry partners' artificial intelligence-enabled aerial combat technologies.

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