New artificial intelligence software was put to the test against a retired top pilot in a simulator and the AI won.
Retired United States Air Force Colonel Gene Lee took on the the new artificial intelligence software called “Alpha.” Lee called the AI, “the most aggressive, responsive, dynamic and credible AI I’ve seen to date.”
Lee is an expert in aerial combat and is an instructor and Air Battle Manager with a lot of air combat experience. Lee has trained with several thousand Air Force pilots and has graduated from the U.S. Fighters Weapons School. Lee took on the AI that was developed by a University of Cincinnati doctoral graduate and lost.
Alpha is a research tool for manned and unmanned teaming in a simulation environment. It was designed for Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles in simulated air combat missions.
It continually outperformed a baseline computer program used by the Air Force Research Lab.
Lee then took to manual controls after a newer version of Alpha was created last October. He was not able to take down Alpha once, and instead, was shot out of the sky in the simulation every time.
Alpha has also beat several other experts, even when the aircraft that Alpha is being used in has handicaps, such as speed, sensors, missile capability and turning.
“It seemed to be aware of my intentions and reacting instantly to my changes in flight and my missile deployment. It knew how to defeat the shot I was taking,” Lee told UC Magazine.
Lee said that for most AI’s, “an experienced pilot can beat up on it if you know what you’re doing.”
“Sure, you might have gotten shot down once in a while by an AI program when you, as a pilot, were trying something new, but, until now, an AI opponent simply could not keep up with anything like the real pressure and pace of combat-like scenarios,” Lee added.
“I go home feeling washed out. I’m tired, drained and mentally exhausted,” Lee said whenever he has to go up against Alpha in hours-long simulations.
“Basically, the AI is so fast that it could consider and coordinate the best tactical plan and precise responses, within a dynamic environment, over 250 times faster than ALPHA’s human opponents could blink,” UC Magazine wrote.
According to a lead engineer for autonomy at AFRL, “ALPHA shows incredible potential, with a combination of high performance and low computational cost that is a critical enabling capability for complex coordinated operations by teams of unmanned aircraft.”