Navy Utilizes AI in Threat Scans

( – Defense officials recently confirmed that the US Navy is increasing its use and development of artificial intelligence (AI) systems to detect targets automatically and have already tested the technology on underwater drones.

The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) of the Pentagon based in California has been making strides toward incorporating new commercial technologies into the US military. According to Navy service leader Alex Campbell of the DIU, their latest efforts have reduced the time it takes to scan the ocean floor to uncover underwater mines and other potential dangers.

The Navy will be rolling out a series of new production contracts which will expand AI usage on underwater drones, also known as unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV). Campbell said that these contracts explore ways in which the technology can be employed to identify hostile vessels, like ships and planes, as well as other threats like mines.

At the heart of the ongoing tests, according to US Marines Corps major Nick Ksiazek, are machine learning algorithms that use sonar sensors to scan for submerged objects on the ocean floor as well as for navigation. Ksiazek is in charge of the AI portfolio at the DIU, which launched over two years ago.

A process that used to involve painstakingly combing through drone footage to identify and distinguish the difference between objects on the ocean floor will now be replaced by equipping UUVs with AI models. The drone sends images back to sailors who are tasked with reviewing the footage to make sure enemy waters or commercial shipping zones are free of threats. Campbell said the innovation reduced the number of sailors needed to review images by 10 each mission, and the mission times have also been shortened.

Another part of the project involves speeding up the process of updating the AI models by doing so remotely when the drones resurface instead of taking them out of the water completely, which takes more time and manpower. And deployments that used to take half a year now happen in a week or less, according to Ksiazek.

As the US looks for any technological advantage over its enemies, such as China and Russia, a new development race continues for the modern era, mirroring the Cold War Space Race.

Copyright 2024,