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Air Force Research Laboratory, partnered with Wright Brothers Institute, announce International “Swarm and Search AI Challenge”

MQ9

An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft assigned to the California Air National Guard's 163rd Attack Wing soars on a training flight to March Air Reserve Base, Calif., Sept. 15, 2016. The wing now is flying MQ-9s in support of civil authorities battling deadly wildfires in Northern California. California Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Neil Ballecer

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) -- The Air Force Research Laboratory, United Kingdom Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, or DSTL, in collaboration with Wright Brothers Institute and University of Dayton Research Institute, announced, the “Swarm and Search AI Challenge: 2019 Fire Hack.” The challenge will explore new, efficient and resilient ways to plan complex unmanned aerial systems search and rescue missions. Concurrent challenges in the U.S. and the U.K. will conclude with a final showdown taking place March 29 - 31, 2019.

The theme of the challenge revolves around mapping wildfires and assumes that improved mission planning, and the ability to react to dynamic changes, has the potential to minimize damage and save lives. Solutions spawned by the challenge may also apply to defense applications. Teams will work remotely, via a closed, online collaboration platform to explore different fire-map scenarios using Air Force-licensed software. All teams will benefit from exposure to new markets and a chance to test their technology against their competition. Once the top 10 teams have been selected, an international showdown will take place March 29 - 31 in order to select the top three teams from the U.S and the U.K. Those teams will be awarded cash prizes and learn about upcoming funding opportunities. The highest scoring solution will be showcased at the 2019 Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Conference and the U.K. Embassy Showcase in Washington, D.C.

AFRL and DSTL are utilizing this innovative approach to find the best artificial intelligence or machine learning algorithms that embody efficiency and resiliency. Both labs benefit by discovering and engaging with new partners.

“It is fantastic to be able to work with DSTL on this project,” said Mick Hitchcock, AFRL program manager. “The activity fits right into both countries’ desire to approach research differently, and involves non-traditional, innovative thinkers as partners and most importantly, get results faster. The competition is not between the two countries, but to highlight the ability to rapidly work together on tough problems.”

“Swarming UAS is rich with innovation and we are looking to solve perceived problems and invent new ways of controlling swarms of drones,” said Timothy Wright, DSTL’s Aerospace Systems Group Leader. “There are also a number of science and technology challenges already commissioned in this area that link closely with the proposed outputs from this challenge.”

U.S. registration began Jan. 15 and runs through Feb. 26. The online competition concludes March 15. For more information, visit www.wbi-challenges.com/ssai.