AI Sweeps Human Pilot in DARPA Dogfight Simulation

A human pilot was swept 5-0 in dogfight simulations against artificial intelligence, which is being hailed as a victory for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The goal of the trial was to give pilots confidence in the future of AI commanding combat aircraft, according to Col. Daniel Javorsek, program manager of DARPA’s Air Combat Evolution Program to Air Force Magazine.

Even if a couple of pilots gain confidence in the AI algorithm developed by Heron Systems, “then I’m considering it a success,” Col. Javorsek told the magazine.

“That’s the first steps I need to create a trust in these sorts of agents.”

There are some caveats to the research, including the fact the programming was not limited by the training of a human Air Force pilot and “nanosecond” AI response is far quicker than the trained “observe, orient, decide, and act” (OODA) of U.S. Air Force pilots, giving the AI a distinct advantage.

The unnamed human pilot is a pilot for the Washington, D.C., air national guard and a recent Air Force Weapons School’s F-16 Weapons Instructor Course and had more than 2,000 hours in the F-16.

Javorsek acknowledged in the report the program is still about a decade off from being used in an active fighter jet, even if they had a perfect, ready-to-go system, which they do not.

“A fully autonomous Heron flying the entire airplane [system] is still quite a ways off,” he told the magazine as the DARPA seeks to study whether “this is even feasible right now.”

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