Event celebrates launch of collaborative research center

Dr. Katia Sycara, Carnegie Mellon University Advanced Agent-Robotics Technology Laboratory director and research professor, talks with leaders and members of the 711th Human Performance Wing during a Sept. 28 kick-off event to celebrate the new University Center of Excellence at Carnegie Mellon in the research area of trusted human-machine teaming. (U.S Air Force photo/Richard Eldridge)
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Dr. Katia Sycara, Carnegie Mellon University Advanced Agent-Robotics Technology Laboratory director and research professor, talks with leaders and members of the 711th Human Performance Wing during a Sept. 28 kick-off event to celebrate the new University Center of Excellence at Carnegie Mellon in the research area of trusted human-machine teaming. (U.S Air Force photo/Richard Eldridge)

The Air Force Research Laboratory’s 711th Human Performance Wing hosted a kick-off event Sept. 28 to celebrate a new University Center of Excellence at Carnegie Mellon University in the research area of trusted human-machine teaming.

The event included team introductions from both 711 HPW and CMU researchers, discussions of current research endeavors and tours of various laboratories, such as MindModeling and Trust and Human-Machine Teaming, among others.

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“The Carnegie Mellon University Center of Excellence is beneficial to the Air Force because it helps push cutting-edge scientific research in fields that the Department of Defense and the Air Force are very interested in, including the functioning of mixed teams of humans and smart machines, autonomous agents and placing trust in these systems, cognitive state assessment of human operators, and artificial intelligence and robotics,” said Dr. John McIntire, 711 HPW Applied Neuroscience branch chief.

The purpose of this UCoE is to establish the foundational principles of design and critical technologies needed to support trusted, mutually adaptive, human-machine teams.

The Air Force’s vision for autonomy is one in which Airmen and intelligent machines work cooperatively as teammates, with shared knowledge, decision making and coordinated action toward common goals, as explained in the summary of the new UCoE vision statement.

AFRL and CMU researchers will work collaboratively toward the measurement, estimation and prediction of human cognitive states and intent, as well as machine learning, reasoning and execution of complex adaptive behavior in support of robust team processes and performance.

“It’s about collaboration,” said McIntire. “It’s about getting the students and faculty involved and interested in these research fields. It’s about partnering between AFRL and academia so we truly have the best people working on the hardest problems. It’s about seeding the next-generation of scientists and engineers to work on challenging problems that the Air Force and DoD care about and see as the future, and it’s about building lasting partnerships between our institutions.”

The UCoE will advance the measurement of neurophysiological signals from human teammates and the integration and interaction of multiple measures (e.g., behavioral, neurological, physiological) and will seek to understand and develop complex, adaptive machine behaviors that go beyond simple automation of function to more interdependent social and team processes, analogous to high-performing human teams.

The UCoE will also investigate the relationship between mutual intelligibility, machine adaptability and trust between autonomous systems and human teammates.

“This new Center of Excellence will allow the Air Force to tap into the best minds working in these fields, facilitate collaboration on these efforts, while getting young scientists interested and involved in these areas,” said McIntire.