Artificial Intelligence (AI), developed by researchers at the University of Cincinnati, won out. And what is more surprising, it did so without needing more power than the processor that comes with a Raspberry Pi, a single board computer that can be purchased for about 30 euros.
In a flight simulator, the AI faced Gene Lee, a retired colonel in the US Air Force with extensive experience as an instructor and specialist in virtual combat, increasingly used to train pilots with lower risks and costs.
According to Lee, this Artificial Intelligence, nicknamed ALPHA , is the “most aggressive, adaptable and dynamic I have ever seen.” As much as to defeat him in the “dog fight” (that’s how the duel between two fighters is called in the American military jargon) that they kept in a simulator equipped with the latest technology, as you can see in the photo and in the video at the end .
ALPHA, emerged from the collaboration of experts from the University of Cincinnati and the US Air Force, aims to improve flight simulations with combat UAVs, to be a sparring partner for the people who will handle those drones, increasingly common on the battlefield.
Better than Top Guns
And it’s good, very good. Colonel Lee failed to hit her once with his missiles, and he was “shot down” repeatedly. ALPHA has beaten other high-level human opponents, even when their speed, turning ability, sensors, and firepower have been limited.
Is it the beginning of the end for flesh and blood pilots? It is still too early to tell, but Lee, who has flown against other AIs since the early 1980s, says his first encounter with ALPHA was “surprising, as conscious and reactive as he was. He seemed to anticipate my intentions and reacted instantly to the changes in my flight and my attacks. I went from defense to attack just when it was necessary. I had not seen an AI capable of adapting to the pressure and rhythm of a virtual combat scenario almost identical to the real one. “
Keep in mind that fighter pilots can be involved in duels at 2,400 km / h and at an altitude of more than 12,000 meters. Under these conditions, decisions have to be made in moments. ALPHA has been shown to be able to process data from its sensors, organize it, map the combat scene, and decide what to do in less than a millisecond. No pilot, no matter how experienced, skilled and intuitive, can match that blazing speed.
Image: Lisa Ventre / University of Cincinnati