Shield AI, San Diego, California, has been awarded a $14,989,097 firm-fixed-price modification (A0001) to previously awarded contract FA8649-20-C-0158 for research and development efforts relating to unmanned aircraft system operations. This modification provides for the support of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations conducted by special operations forces ground combat maneuver elements in complex, contested and congested environments. Work will be performed in Hurlburt Field, Florida, and is expected to be completed by June 30, 2023. Fiscal 2021 Small Business Innovation Research funds in the amount of $14,989,097 are being obligated at the time of award.
Throughout the year, we highlighted a wide variety of thought leaders in our On Point column. Each interviewee shared their insight on the next great technology trend, and we’ve compiled a list of their top trends to watch as we prepare to kick off a new year.
1. Quantum effects
“Using them produces significant gains in sensitivity and thus signal-to-noise ratio. I admit, however, that I am less excited about quantum key distribution, believing that post-quantum public key cryptography that is resistant to cracking by quantum computation may prove to be more reliable.” —Vint Cerf, vice president and chief Internet evangelist at Google
New acquisition approaches are at the heart of a Defense Department effort to speed artificial intelligence (AI) to the warfighter. Other Transactional Authorities (OTAs) are part of the defense effort, known as Tradewind, to bring AI out of the concept stage and into the hands of the warfighter.
Encouraging and extracting innovation is the main thrust of Tradewind, allowed Dave Angeletti, director of the Tradewind ecosystem, which itself is a part of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC). With AI offering potential applications in ways that many experts cannot yet conceive of, Tradewind is also trying to bring out new applications as well as speed familiar innovations to the field.
A major challenge the Defense Department and intelligence community face is managing the massive amounts of structured and unstructured data they possess.
One way to do this is by using artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to help agencies break down their siloed data to use it more efficiently, Eric Putnam, MarkLogic’s executive account lead for the intelligence community, told George I. Seffers, SIGNAL Magazine’s executive editor during a SIGNAL Executive Video Series discussion.
Federal organizations that plan on implementing artificial intelligence systems now have a framework for practices that addresses development, monitoring, legal and ethical issues. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) document, “Artificial Intelligence: An Accountability Framework for Federal Agencies and Other Entities,” aims to ensure responsible use of artificial intelligence (AI), including oversight.
The U.S. Defense Department is deploying teams of data and artificial intelligence experts to the various combatant commands as part of its efforts to implement the joint all-domain command and control (JADC2) vision. The combatant commands host some teams for relatively short visits—a matter of days—while others will remain onsite for three years.
Kathleen Hicks, deputy secretary of defense, launched the AI and data acceleration (ADA) initiative. The teams include both data and artificial intelligence experts. The chief data officer and the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) coordinate and lead the effort.
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Mahdi Al-Husseini, assigned to the 25th Infantry Division based in Hawaii, won the fifth iteration of the XVIII Airborne Corps Dragon’s Lair competition for his innovation: an AI pilot biofeedback system applicable to all rotary wing Army airframes, on September 27.
“Mahdi’s program has the potential to revolutionize the way our Army manages aviation practices and pilot and crew performance,” Col. Joe Buccino, USA, XVIII Airborne Corps innovation officer, says is a press release. “This was among the most well-developed, visionary concepts we’ve seen come into Dragon’s Lair thus far.”
Jacobs Technology Inc., Severn, Maryland, has been awarded an $8,849,269 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for research and development. This contract provides for the supporting research and development of innovative algorithm development of artificial intelligence capabilities that are extensible to the Air Force mission in the area of executive functions. The location of performance will be in Severn, Maryland. The work is expected to be completed by September 17, 2024. Fiscal 2020 and 2021 research and development funds in the amount of $770,568 are being obligated at the time of award. Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8650-21-C-1167).
The Defense Intelligence Agency is overhauling two critical but aging intelligence systems along with its strategy and organizational structure to enhance the organization’s ability to provide essential intelligence on militaries around the world.
Research into artificial intelligence may hold the key to advancing every aspect of intelligence operations. Yet, as extensive as its effects would be, the effort to develop effective artificial intelligence also will require a broad-based coordination among government, industry and academia.
Katharina McFarland, commissioner on the National Security Council’s Commission on Artificial Intelligence, is not hesitant to offer a far-reaching opinion on artificial intelligence’s (AI’s) potential for changing the nature of intelligence. “This technology is almost the equivalent of electricity back in the 1800s,” she says. “I think it’s going to be ubiquitous.”
Increasing intelligence requirements and skillful collection technology have flooded the intelligence community with raw information. To address this problem, big data and artificial intelligence technologies aid the initial processing and exploitation of the information. But as technology continues to grow in capability, consumers must temper expectations regarding its impact on intelligence analysis.
As China, Russia, the United States and others race to gain an advantage with artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, quantum-enabled AI may be the next evolution, according to a panel of experts at the August 16-19 AFCEA TechNet conference in Augusta, Georgia.
The panel of women experts included moderator Carrie McLeish, director of federal capture, SANS Institute; Maj. Gen. Johanna Clyborne, ARNG, deputy commanding general, ARNG U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence; Arlene Espinal, vice president, Analytics, Automation, AI and Innovation Capabilities Office, ManTech; and Gokila Dorai, assistant professor, School of Computer and Cyber Sciences.
The Defense Information Systems Agency, known as DISA, is expanding its artificial intelligence (AI) efforts through a research agreement and a new pilot program. While both efforts are in the beginning stages, the agency is considering how to possibly apply the so-called AI capabilities to network defense—among other areas the agency is separately pursuing—as it conducts its daily 24/7 mission of protecting the Department of Defense Information Network, or DODIN.
The agency entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, or CRADA, with Vienna, Virginia-based software company NT Concepts to apply machine learning (ML) to defensive cyber operations.
Morse Corporation, Inc.,* Cambridge, Massachusetts, was awarded a $10,861,549 modification (P00003) to contract W911NF-19-C-0101 to develop novel artificial intelligence/machine learning test, evaluation, and algorithmic capabilities. Work will be performed in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with an estimated completion date of September 30, 2022. Fiscal 2021 research, development, test and evaluation, Army funds in the amount of $10,861,549 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity. *Small Business
Entrepreneurs are leading advances in artificial intelligence, chip-level Internet of Things cybersecurity, and satellite capabilities. In 10-minute intervals, representatives from five startup companies pitched these emerging aerospace-related technologies during Starburst Accelerator’s virtual Los Angeles Selection Committee meeting on July 14. The entrepreneurs are vying for partnership agreements, venture capitalist seed funding and a chance to join Starburst's Accelerator program. Headquartered in Paris, with offices in Los Angeles, Singapore, Munich, Tel Aviv, Madrid, Seoul and Mumbai, Starburst has been uniting startups and investors in the aerospace industry for the past eight years.
Winner of The Cyber Edge 2021 Writing Contest
Convincing senior defense decision makers to significantly invest in artificial intelligence capabilities that would add more value to the United States’ already digitized operational capabilities—particularly in the cyber domain—needs more than pronouncements that “AI can save the taxpayers money.” It requires a logical progression of defining the objective, identifying the need, demonstrating specific results, conducting comprehensive cost analysis and, particularly in the case of applications in the cyber domain, thoughtfully discussing resilience and deception.
With only months remaining before this fall’s Project Convergence 2021, U.S. Army researchers aim to integrate roughly 20 systems with the service’s fledgling artificial intelligence-enabled targeting technology known as FIRES Synchronization to Optimize Responses in Multi-Domain Operations.
Security and artificial intelligence are two of the top technological capabilities needed to fully integrate the networking for U.S. naval forces, including the Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps, according to experts serving on a panel during the West 2021 virtual conference.
The panel included Rear Adm. David Dermanelian, USCG, assistant commandant, command, control, communications, computers and information technology; Jennifer Edgin, assistant deputy commandant for information for the Marine Corps; and Vice Adm. Jeffrey Trussler, USN, deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare and director of naval intelligence.
The U.S. Navy Special Warfare Command seeks to conduct missions no one else can, and officials expect artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to assist in that effort, Rear Adm. Hugh Wyman Howard III, USN, the organization’s commander, told the audience today during the 2021 WEST virtual conference.
The idea of responsible artificial intelligence (AI) is spreading far and wide across the U.S. Department of Defense and its surrounding ecosystem.
Both soldiers and combat commanders likely will get hands-on experience in the coming months with one of the Army’s hottest new artificial intelligence systems known as FIRESTORM.
The artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled system, formally named FIRES Synchronization to Optimize Responses in Multi-Domain Operations, still is in the science and technology phase and is not yet a formal program of record. It ingests data from sensors and other systems, uses One World Terrain to map the battlefield and recommends the best weapon system to engage specific targets, saving commanders precious time for making decisions. Prior technologies took almost 20 minutes to relay data back to warfighters. FIRESTORM takes 32 seconds.
The U.S. intelligence community is embracing a number of emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence, biotechnologies, advanced materials and advanced communication systems, officials from the Office of the Director of Intelligence (ODNI) told the audience at AFCEA’s virtual Spring Intelligence Symposium, held May 25-27.
If the United States is going to use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to maintain a technological advantage, data science capabilities are a must, says Maj. Gen. Maria Barrett, USA, commander, U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM).
Gen. Barrett made the remarks while serving on a panel of women cyber leaders on the final day of the AFCEA TechNet August Virtual Event Series, held May 18-19.
The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence published its final report this spring, grimly declaring that “America is not prepared to defend or compete in the AI [artificial intelligence] era,” and warning that “within the next decade, China could surpass the United States as the world’s AI superpower.”
As U.S. intelligence agencies pivot from the war on terror to the new era of near-peer competition, the information landscape on which they operate is shifting dramatically, as detailed in the recently released report from the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (AI).
For two decades, U.S. intelligence operated in an information poor environment—hunting its elusive adversaries through fleeting glimpses on surveillance video or wisps of cellphone traffic. And, thanks to the technical and operational excellence of U.S. collection, even that information poor environment often generated an overwhelming volume of data.
The 11 combatant commands of the U.S. military are on the front lines of protecting U.S. national security. They hold the toughest problem sets, from protecting and defending the United States or its interests abroad, deterring aggression, carrying out missions, providing humanitarian assistance or building cooperation with other nations.
Revolutionary ways to gather, parse and share information in the innovation era is propelling the intelligence community into resourceful ways of doing business. To tackle the challenges lightning-speed technology changes and applications generate, 18 U.S. intelligence organizations must accept cultural changes and risk toleration to prepare for adversaries weaponizing the same capabilities against the U.S. and its allies, experts agree.
The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), which is responsible for providing intelligence on foreign militaries, is prepared in the coming weeks to release a new capability for the Machine-assisted Analytic Rapid-repository System (MARS). The new module, known as Order of Battle, will provide insights into foreign military forces.
Competition in the information domain does not happen nationally. It happens locally, said Ben Leo, CEO and co-founder of Fraym, an international open-source intelligence and data analytics company.
“Competition in the information domain simply doesn’t happen at the national level. It happens in communities, neighborhoods, and even down to individual households or homes,” Leo said during a SIGNAL Executive Video Series discussion with Robert K. Ackerman, SIGNAL Magazine’s editor in chief.
Software-defined networks, commercial satellite communications, cognitive electronic warfare, intelligent radios and artificial intelligence applications all potentially offer the military advanced capabilities for the tactical environment, say Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory’s (APL’s) Julia Andrusenko, chief engineer, Tactical Wireless Systems Group, and Mark Simkins, program manager, Resilient Tactical Communications Networks.
Researchers have learned some surprising lessons from the technologies developed under the Defense Department’s Squad X program, which will end this year. For example, artificial intelligence may not help warfighters make faster decisions, but it does provide a planning advantage over adversaries. Furthermore, when it comes to detecting and electronically attacking enemy signals, systems can make smart decisions without artificial intelligence.
Collaboration.Ai LLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota, was awarded a $10,000,000 maximum indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (H92408-21-D-0002) with firm-fixed-price and cost-reimbursable contract line items to facilitate AFWERX Challenges using its Augmented Human/Community Performance Platform to conduct market research for the High Speed Vertical Takeoff and Landing aircraft concept. Fiscal 2021 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $250,000 are being obligated at the time of award. The facilitation will primarily be conducted virtually and is expected to be completed by March 2024. This is a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase III contract award.
Aura Technologies LLC,* Raleigh, North Carolina, was awarded a $49,997,256 hybrid (cost-plus-fixed-fee and firm-fixed-price) contract to design, develop, test and field artificial intelligence for tactical power, operations and advanced manufacturing technologies. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of March 11, 2026. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity (W911NF-21-D-0002). *Small Business
The tsunami of information that will hit with the full exploitation of 5G cellular will create a wealth of open source intelligence that will define the art in coming years. New sensor systems, artificial intelligence (AI) processing and expanded information delivery methods will produce new types of intelligence available in greater detail for a range of customers.
The potential proliferation of hypersonic weapons highlights the need to advance a wide range of other technologies, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomy, laser weapons and fully networked command, control and communications systems, says George Kailiwai III, director, requirements and resources (J-8) for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.
The Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation announced awards for two collaborative projects. Totaling $1.5 million, the projects will develop advanced homeland security technologies in the areas of threat detection and 3D mapping. The BIRD Homeland Security (HLS) program is a joint initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the Israel Ministry of Public Security (MOPS).
The 2020 HLS awardees are:
Technological leaps in ground station capabilities, such as interference cancellation, band diversity and phased array antennas, will allow the U.S. Army to use new Internet of Things satellite constellations to boost combat communications. New technologies offer lower latency, higher throughput and greater network resilience while being easier for soldiers to use.
Recent Army experiments, including the Network Modernization Experiment (NetModX) and Project Convergence, have included a range of technologies for enhancing and protecting satellite communications (SATCOM). The technologies will support Army modernization goals, including a more resilient network, long-range precision fires and air and missile defense.
Today, the U.S. Army issued the final request for proposals for the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) concept design phase. The request for proposals asks for a common modular open architecture that will allow the rapid insertion of new software capabilities as they become available.
Within the next decade or two, technological advances may revolutionize the Internet, creating an environment that is secure for all, provides more power to the people and offers an immersive, virtual reality experience as a part of daily life, according to a recent study of strategic foresight.
The study was completed this summer by the TechCast Project, a virtual think tank that focuses on strategic forecasting. The project was founded by William Halal, professor emeritus of management, technology, and innovation at George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
Pentagon officials are developing a strategy related to the joint all-domain command and control (JADC2) concept that should be delivered soon to the combatant commands, according to Lt. Gen. Dennis Crall, USMC, the Joint Staff's chief information officer and director of command, control, communications and computers, also known as the J-6.
Gen. Crall made the comments during the AFCEA TechNet Cyber conference, a virtual event held December 1-3.
Electronic implants in the brain or other parts of the body may be more efficient and effective due to a recent breakthrough by researchers at the University of Delaware. The advance potentially offers a wide array of biotechnology benefits and could also allow humans to control unmanned vehicles and other technologies with the brain.
The U.S. Defense Department is developing a machine learning tool that can more quickly detect cyber intrusions and enable a more rapid response.
A breakthrough in materials could improve the efficiency and effectiveness of electronic implants in the human brain or other parts of the body. The advance could offer an array of biotechnology benefits and allow humans to control unmanned vehicles and other technologies directly with their brains.
The whole will be greater than the sum of its parts as evolving technologies come together to spawn entirely new capabilities that will affect the connected world. That connected world itself will be expanding as innovations empower people far beyond existing, and even envisioned, parameters
As with all advances, this new connected world will not be without drawbacks. Security and privacy concerns will be greater, as the potential threats become more ubiquitous. But some capabilities may bring their own solutions to these challenges.
The fourth and final phase of the Gremlins unmanned aerial system program will include collaborative autonomy software that allows one person to control multiple unmanned air vehicles. The technology extends the capability of unmanned aircraft systems to conduct long-distance engagements of mobile ground and maritime targets in areas with poor communications or limited navigational signals.
The U.S. Army’s infinitely adaptable situational awareness tool created a decade ago continues to find new uses thanks to artificial intelligence, wearable computers, virtual reality, unmanned systems and other cutting-edge technologies.
The Tactical Assault Kit (TAK) is a map-based software application that enables coordination among thousands of users with features such as a position data, chat, mission planning and shared overlays. It is compatible with Android, Apple iOS and Windows. The Air Force, FBI, Secret Service, U.S. Park Police and Special Operations Forces are among the organizations that have customized it for their own purposes.
a.i. solutions Inc.,* Lanham, Maryland, is being awarded a $203,204,319 competitive, cost-plus-fixed-fee, level-of-effort contract with a three-year base value of $77,728,390 and two one-year options for quality and mission assurance advisory and assistance services. The work will be performed in the National Capital Region; Dahlgren, Virginia; Huntsville, Alabama; Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico; Fort Greely, Alaska; Orlando, Florida; Moorestown, New Jersey; Tucson, Arizona; Salt Lake City, Utah; Promontory, Utah; Joplin, Missouri; and other locations as directed, with an estimated completion date of December 2025. This contract was competitively procured via publication on the beta.SAM.gov website with two proposals received.
The recently completed Network Modernization Experiment (NetModX) included an army of autonomous agents unleashed in defense of the network and in some cases also protected other artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.
NetModX is a science and technology experiment held July 20-October 2 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. The science and technology experiment provides lessons learned for Army acquisition decisions, science and technology specifications, requirements and strategies necessary to modernize the force. Systems that performed well this year might ultimately end up in the Army’s arsenal as part of the capability sets to be fielded in 2023 and 2025.
The U.S. Army’s joint strategy document for countering small unmanned aerial systems should be headed soon to the Secretary of Defense for approval, Army officials say, and artificial intelligence and machine learning are crucial to the vision.
During a telephone discussion with reporters, Maj. Gen. Sean Gainey, USA, director of the Joint Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office and director of fires, G-3/5/7, described artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) as “critical” to the military’s efforts to counter unmanned aerial systems (UAS).
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, has been awarded an $8,696,785 cost-reimbursement contract for Design.R – artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted cyber physical systems design software prototype. This contract provides for developing an AI co-designer composed of design space construction, design composition and design space exploration that will interoperate seamlessly to enable a tightly integrated design process. Work will be performed in Nashville, Tennessee; Edmonton Alberta, Canada; and Szeged, Hungary, and is expected to be completed by September 24, 2024. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition and 25 offers were received.