DARPA advances artificial intelligence program for air traffic control

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has approved the second phase of artificial intelligence technology that will help automate military air traffic control.  

The Generalized Integrated Learning Architecture (GILA) system, developed by Lockheed Martin's Advanced Technology Laboratories under a $22 million, 48-month contract, is intended to help the Air Force in particular keep airspace operating safely with increased air traffic and the advent of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and other airborne weapons. 

Air operation centers use what’s known as  Airspace Control Orders to help manage airspace. Improper or unclear  orders endanger passengers, pilots and people on the ground. Lockheed Martin’s GILA will help create and control these orders by learning flight controllers’ tasks -- often by using only one example, Lockheed claims. 

GILA will also help Air Force planners use and retain  the skills of expert operators, especially as they rotate out of the Air Force. 

DARPA says the artificial intelligence software will learn by assembling knowledge from different sources-including generating knowledge by reasoning.  According to a Military & Aerospace item, such software has to combine limited observations with subject expertise, general knowledge, reasoning, and by asking what-if questions.

The integrated learner also will have explicit learning goals, keep track of what it does not know, what it needs to know, as well as track and reason about its uncertainties.  The software will attempt to figure things out, as well as tolerate errors and missing information by using whatever information or reasoning is available.  Integrated learning software must be able to manipulate many different forms of information and even trade off different types of information and reasoning, as well as interact with humans to fill in information gaps, the article said. 

"Eventually [GILA] will outperform the novice human planner by 125% while giving the inexperienced user an embedded, accelerated training capability," says Lockheed.  

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