Using AI to Spot Threats At Sea

Recently the UK Science & Technology Select Committee published a long awaited report into robotics and AI, and their implications for society.

“Artificial intelligence has some way to go before we see systems and robots as portrayed in the creative arts such as Star Wars,” said Dr Tania Mathis, the committee chair.

Whilst she is, of course, right, that isn’t to say that ground isn’t being made in AI applications in the military. A good example of this is the recently prototyped product from Roke Manor Research as part of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).

AI at sea

The device, known as STARTLE, utilizes a range of AI techniques to monitor and evaluate threats at sea. The system, which has been inspired by the fear response mechanism in the mammalian brain to detect and assess potential threats incredibly quickly, thus giving existing operators valuable support in complex and challenging situations.

If such a system finds its way into the sensor suites currently deployed on navel vessels, it would provide invaluable support to the staff on board, as it would be capable of processing several sources of information simultaneously, providing staff with a swift and accurate assessment of the environment.

“This is an exciting project for us. Traditional methods of processing data can be inefficient so we have looked at the human brain’s tried and tested means of detecting and assessing threats to help us design a better way to do it. The techniques have the potential to benefit the Royal Navy,” the Roke team say.

The system has already been tested out in a virtual environment, with STARTLE capable of redistributing resources to examine the potential threat in more detail, all in the blink of an eye.

“The project draws upon every element of Roke’s 60 years of experience in sensors, data science, communications and cyber security. Innovations such as these build real momentum for our clients, enabling the pull through of research into operational capability,” Roke continue.

The project will be integrated into the Open Architecture Combat System, which is a demonstrator facility designed to showcase research ideas in a representative combat environment.

It’s a project well worth keeping an eye on.

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