An AI just flew a military training aircraft for 17 hours

  • Lockheed Martin announced this week that it successfully used an AI agent to pilot one of its tactical training aircraft.
  • The aircraft in question is called the VISTA X-62A, and it flew via AI for 17 hours.
  • The company says it will continue its testing throughout 2023, but its larger plans have not been disclosed.

In recent years much has been made of the developments regarding artificial intelligence, and over the past couple of months, interest in AI is at an all-time high. Perhaps unsurprisingly it is not only big tech that is interested in the technology, with aerospace firm Lockheed Martin this week announcing a successful test of an aircraft piloted by AI.

The aircraft in question is called the VISTA X-62A (Variable In-flight Simulation Test Aircraft), and it was flown by artificial intelligence more roughly 17 hours, during testing at a Edwards Air Force Base in California during December last year, the company explained.

Lockheed Martin also notes that this is the first time that an AI was engaged in use on a tactical aircraft (seen above).

“VISTA is a one-of-a-kind training airplane developed by Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in collaboration with Calspan Corporation for the USAF TPS. Built on open systems architecture, VISTA is fitted with software that allows it to mimic the performance characteristics of other aircraft,” the company added in a blog post.

“VISTA will allow us to parallelize the development and test of cutting-edge artificial intelligence techniques with new uncrewed vehicle designs. This approach, combined with focused testing on new vehicle systems as they are produced, will rapidly mature autonomy for uncrewed platforms and allow us to deliver tactically relevant capability to our warfighter,” continued Dr. M. Christopher Cotting, U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School director of research.

As such, it is clear this technology has longer term application in the military field by the United States, although it remains to be seen just when it could be deployed. Either way, this is an impressive a step in the development of AI as it is concerning.

For now though, the company plans to do more testing at the same facility.

“VISTA will continue to serve an integral role in the rapid development of AI and autonomy capabilities for U.S. Air Force. It is currently undergoing a series of routine inspections. Flights will resume at Edwards Air Force Base throughout 2023,” Lockheed Martin concluded.


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