Cost-Saving Advancements in Autonomous Technology

As part of an effort to cut costs and attract new autonomous technology ideas from in-house researchers, the Defense Department has selected seven proposals to be tested in the Autonomy Research Pilot Initiative, according to a Pentagon release. Chosen from a pool of more than 50 submissions, the proposals offer new ideas in the technological advancement of autonomous systems with the intention of providing more capability to warfighters, promoting cross-service collaboration and—essential in a time of significant budget cuts—decreasing operational cost. “We believe autonomy and autonomous systems will be very important for how we operate in the future,” said Al Shaffer, acting assistant secretary of defense for research and engineering. The program is expected to cost about $45 million over three years, states the release. The Air Force Research Laboratory will work on three of the seven projects. The first looks at autonomy for air combat missions and mixed human and unmanned aerial vehicle teams. The second focuses on developing “integrated human sensing capability to enable the human-machine team.” And, finally, AFRL will help develop “small UAV teaming algorithms to enable systems to autonomously search a cave,” states the release.