The US Air Force’s AFLCMC Armament Directorate has awarded a one-year contract to Liteye Systems and Unmanned Experts to build Web Weasels (WW) autonomous swarming artificially intelligent munitions.
WW is part of Unmanned Experts’ parent program Air Commons – Swarm which allows commanders to plan, task, and manage multiple swarming assets through a Swarm ATO and Swarm Engine.
According to Liteye, squadrons of autonomous collaborative munitions operating at range, and at risk, need the training, Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) to handle the speed-of-datalink environment that occurs in modern combat. Teamwork, communication, shared mental models, and a robust set of tried and tested strategies are needed to survive and dominate.
WW aims to overlay Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML)-trained algorithms onto Air Commons – Swarm’s capabilities to provide pre-launch munitions with a series of TTPs in a ‘Playbook’ for a given mission set (i.e., SEAD).
The munitions will launch with AI-on-the-Edge hardware, firmware, and comms architecture which allows them to collaboratively assess the combat environment, vote on the most suitable Play, call an ‘Audible’ change, and execute the improved plan. In addition, the Human-in-the-Loop (HITL) aspects of autonomous swarm command and control are complex. WW will analyze best practices and develop the Human-Swarm Interface (HSwI) using HITL simulators.
“The Armament Directorate is pursuing ideas that permit Blue Forces to command various collaborative weapons systems and coordinated tactics to ensure success. A dynamic battlespace requires automated, adaptive weapons systems and cooperative tactics as well as Artificial Intelligence algorithms with ‘dialable’ human influence,” said Keven Gambold, CEO of Unmanned Experts. “Web Weasels’ goal is for swarm operators to be able to train and deploy artificially intelligent collaborative autonomous munitions rapidly and globally on any mission type.”
WW uses three teams, one building, and training AI/ML Playbook algorithms; one focused on AI-on-the-Edge, voting, and Audibles; and the third one testing HSwI configurations. WW will use AFSim to run trial iterations, and then fly suitably equipped small Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) to emulate autonomous stand-off munitions against Liteye’s SHIELD Counter-UAS systems to emulate an Enemy Force integrated radar threat.
“Liteye is excited to be working on this program with Unmanned Experts,” said Kenneth Geyer, CEO of Liteye Systems. “As drone warfare advancements continue at a staggering rate it is important to keep adding capabilities like Web Weasels to our solutions.”