Army Research Lab Builds AI Robots for Battlefield Situational Awareness

The Army wants drones and robots with onboard algorithms and processes that integrate perception with navigation to better understand the battlefield. (source: FCW)

The Army wants drones and robots with onboard algorithms and processes that integrate perception with navigation to better understand the battlefield. (source: FCW)

April 8, 2019 | Source: FCW, fcw.com, Lauren C. Williams, 1 April 2019

The Army is designing artificial intelligence for the battlefield with two prototype drones aimed at gathering situational awareness intelligence for soldiers on the ground

Raghuveer Rao, the Army Research Laboratory's image branch chief of the Combat Capabilities Development Command, supervises the lab's AI scene perception research that builds bots that can recognize real-world objects.

Rao's lab has developed drone prototypes for ground and aerial use to enhance situational awareness. It is also working with the Joint AI Center and Army AI Task Force to further develop and define priority areas, namely intelligent scene perception and mission learning.

"They're one of a kind at this stage," Rao said. "We're interested in is having algorithms and processes onboard that integrate perception with navigation. We want to be able to understand, … what's going on below when you fly a UAV. And then on that basis [have the UAV] decide if it wants to do a closer examination."

That means the drone would be able to detect people and then decide to investigate what else might be happening in the scene, such as the activities people are engaged in.

"You would want the machine to make its own decisions and take a closer look," Rao said.