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Air Force Tests New Autonomous Flight Test System

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The U.S. Air Force 412th Test Wing performed a three-day flight trial for a new system designed to facilitate autonomous aircraft testing.

The Testing of Autonomy in Complex Environments system, develop by Johns Hopkins University, establishes links between an aircraft on auto pilot and an artificial intelligence computer, the service branch said Thursday. The computer sends autonomous commands to the aircraft that TACE gathers status information from.

“Today we had an autonomous algorithm commanding the aircraft without any direct human involvement,” said Capt. Riley Livermore who leads the autonomy division of 412th Test Wing emerging technologies combined test force.

The system is intended to regulate autonomy commands and allow the aircraft to observe simulations. The team tested the TACE payload with a Swift Radio Planes-made Lynx small unmanned aircraft system.

“TACE controls what the autonomy computer sees and therefore can manipulate that information to allow for simulated entities to influence its decision making,” Livermore stated.

The test force plans to perform another test within the next two weeks and proceed to trials with larger unmanned aircraft units in the summer.

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