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Artificial intelligence enhances the impact of air and space power for the Joint Force

Photo of Wing Commander Michael Gan on board a C-27J Spartan during an artificial intelligence search and rescue training mission.
Wing Commander Michael Gan on board a C-27J Spartan during an artificial intelligence search and rescue training mission.

Defence faces a significant evolution of technology that will dramatically change the speed and character of warfare.Success in this environment depends on the ability to withstand constant grey-zone competition, command a data-enriched algorithmic battlespace, and exploit transient capability advantages in agile ways.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous systems will enable Defence to analyse masses of data in complex operating environments. The Joint Capabilities Group established the Defence Artificial Intelligence Centre to build the capability foundations and accelerate the understanding
and implementation of AI across Defence.

Air Force’s Plan Jericho continues to work with partners to explore and rapidly prototype AI
systems across combat, support, maintenance and enterprise administrative functions to
support this understanding. Plan Jericho artificial intelligence driven collaborations include:

  • AI Search: a collaboration with the Warfare Innovation Navy Branch and Air Mobility Group’s No. 35 Squadron that has prototyped an AI-enhanced search and rescue system that in initial trials demonstrated a detection rate 29 per centbetter than humans
  • SARAH (Supply Assistance Robot—Autonomous Hardware): a collaboration with No. 36 Squadron that prototyped the automation of low-skilled and sometimes labour-intensive tasks to free valuable human capital to increase the effectiveness of a unit
  • AIMEE: a virtual cognitive assistant developed with Deloitte to accelerate the use of natural language processing, providing an enhanced user experience for Defence personnel undertaking routine processes while increasing their overall efficiency and effectiveness.

Plan Jericho has partnerships with forward thinking Australian companies to build sovereign
capability, including:

  • a successful ‘queryable sensor’ concept prototype with Trellis Data. The system’s edge processing can automate the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) process and provide ‘ISR on demand’ to the warfighter
  • an open, scalable unclassified sensor experimentation environment developed in collaboration with Sigma Bravo to prototype networked multi-sensor devices for use in future warfighting scenarios.

Defence Science and Technology Group, in conjunction with Plan Jericho and the Trusted Autonomous Systems Defence Cooperative Research Centre, led an ‘Ethical AI’ workshop in Canberra from 30 July to 1 August 2019 that brought together Australian and international
experts in law, ethics, science and technology to address ethics across a range of military AI
applications. The principles discussed in the workshop may inform future AI experimentation.

The Defence Artificial Intelligence Centre, supported by Plan Jericho, contributed to
Operation COVID-19 ASSIST by developing data visualisation and analytical tools for use by the
Australian Defence Force COVID-19 Taskforce in support of state and territory governments