WASHINGTON — Army Futures Command has outlined 11 broad areas of artificial intelligence research it’s interested in over the next five years, with an emphasis on data analysis, autonomous systems, security and decision-making assistance.
The broad agency announcement from the Austin, Texas-based command comes as the service and the Defense Department work to connect sensors and shooters across the battlefield. Artificial intelligence will be key in that effort by analyzing data and assisting commanders in the decision-making process.
The announcement, released by the command’s Artificial Intelligence Integration Center, said the service is “particularly” interested in AI research of autonomous ground and air platforms, “which must operate in open, urban and cluttered environments.” The document specifically asks for research into technologies that allow for robots or autonomous systems to move in urban, contested environments, as well as technologies that reduce the electromagnetic profile of the systems. It also wants to know more about AI that can sense obscure targets and understand terrain obstacles.
The document identifies several needs pertaining to data analysis over the next five years. The Army is interested in human-machine interfacing research and needs additional research in ways it can predict an adversary’s intent and behavior on the battlefield. In the same category, the Army wants to be able to fuse data from disparate sources and have analytical capabilities to “exploit” classified and unclassified sources to make “enhanced” intelligence products.
The Army also wants to be able to combine human insight with machine analysis and develop improved ways of “efficiently” conveying analytics results to humans.
“The Army is interested in AI/ML research in areas which can reduce the cognitive burden on humans and improve overall performance through human-machine teaming,” the announcement read.
Similarly, the Army needs more research over the next five years into how to better display data to humans. Data must be presented clearly to users — through charts or graphs, for example — so they can understand what the information means.
“The Army is interested in research that enables improved situational awareness and the visualization and navigation of large data sets to enhance operational activities and training and readiness,” the announcement read. Along that same vein, the service is also seeking novel ways of visualizing sensor data and large data sets with multiple sources.
The service also wants more research into AI for sensing on the battlefield, including detecting people, equipment and weapons, even when obscured. It wants to sense these targets based on “physical, behavioral, cyber or other signatures.” Additionally, the Army wants AI-enabled sensors and processors that can detect chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats.
Network and communications security is another area in which the Army wants more research. The service is seeking more research into autonomous network defense and AI-based approaches to offensive cyber capabilities. It also wants novel cyber protection technologies and methods.
Additionally, to prepare for potential GPS-denied environments of the future, the Army is interested in research into algorithms and techniques to fuse sources of position, navigation and timing to provide “robust” capabilities.
The Internet of Things, or the massive network of devices connected to the internet, presents more artificial intelligence needs for the Army. According to the solicitation, the service is interested in AI research into “new approaches to enable secure, resilient, and automatically managed IoT networks in highly complex, mixed cooperative/adversarial, information-centric environments.”
“The Army needs to better integrate a wide range of capabilities and equipment and capitalize on commercial developments in industrial and human IoT,” the solicitation said.
Andrew Eversden covers all things defense technology for C4ISRNET. He previously reported on federal IT and cybersecurity for Federal Times and Fifth Domain, and worked as a congressional reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune. He was also a Washington intern for the Durango Herald. Andrew is a graduate of American University.