“We’re delighted to be here for this historic visit to Annapolis,” said HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Commanding Officer Commodore Steve Moorhouse, in a statement from the release. “HMS Queen Elizabeth represents the very best of UK industry and technology, so it is particularly pertinent that we should be hosting these two exciting events on board, including the second ever Atlantic Future Forum. The UK-U.S. relationship continues to go from strength to strength, as demonstrated by the support we have received from the U.S. Navy, Marines and Air Force throughout our journey to bring our new carriers and jets in to service. It is events like these, which help to reinforce, develop and bring new relevance to this vital relationship as we prepare together for any future threats we face.”
The theme of the “Swarm and Search AI Challenge: 2019 Fire Hack” revolved around mapping wildfires and assumed that improved mission planning and the ability to react to dynamic changes have the potential to minimize damage and save lives. Solutions created during the challenge may also apply to defense applications.
Teams worked remotely, via a closed, online collaboration platform to explore different fire map scenarios, using Air Force-licensed software. Thirty-nine U.S. teams benefitted from exposure to new markets and a chance to test their technology against their competition.
Concurrent challenges in the United States and the United Kingdom concluded with a final international showdown that took place March 29-31 among the top nine teams after four different increasingly complex rounds of competition.
AFRL and DSTL utilized this innovative approach to find the best artificial intelligence or machine learning algorithms the embody efficiency and resiliency.
“It has been fantastic to be able to work with DSTL on this project,” said Mick Hitchcock, AFRL program manager. “The activity fit right into both countries’ desire to approach research differently and involved non-traditional, innovative thinkers as partners and most importantly, helped get results faster.”
The competition was not between two countries but was meant to highlight the ability to rapidly work together on tough problems.
“I’m most proud of the relationship that we have with the Air Force Research Lab and also the Wright Brothers Institute,” said Timothy Wright, DSTL’s Aerospace Systems group leader. “The relationship that we have has really enabled us to turn out what was an incredibly exciting, enlightening, innovative and enthralling event.”
“This is the future; this is how we’re going to do business,” said Jack Blackhurst, AFRL executive director. “We want to look at all kinds of ideas and the only way you do that is to get outside to the external environment of the Air Force and talk with people and let them play. That’s what we’re doing.”
“These sort of experiments that we’re running – these sort of approaches are going to allow us to mine technology in a way that we never were able to before,” Hitchcock said.
Future challenges are anticipated and more information will be available at AFRL's website at