The U.S. Air Force wants to field autonomous drone prototypes through a program it’s calling Skyborg. The Air Force has taken a new initiative, asking the tech pioneers in the industry to provide their input about the program. The Skyborg is still in the process and planning to launch the program by 2023, where a robotic co-pilot or drone wingman can perform essential tasks while the human pilot is busy flying and fighting the aircraft.
The Air Force Research Lab is currently building a completely game-changing technology – Will Roper, Air Force’s assistant secretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics.
Skyborg will be an autonomous unmanned air combat vehicle system with open artificial intelligence software architecture and modular hardware. The primary aim of the Skyborg program is to deploy a modular, fighter-like aircraft that can be used to quickly update and field more complex autonomy iteratively to support the warfighter. Once in action, Skyborg will enable warfighters to adjust the payload and act independently to help an array of missions.
In parallel with the AFRL’s Loyal Wingman program Skyborg is running to develop small, high-performance, which is an effort to combat low-cost drones to fly alongside human-crewed fighter aircraft. AI flight controls and networks could command swarms of such inexpensive drones, a tactic that might overwhelm the defenses of a near-peer adversary, says Ben Tran, Skyborg program manager.
Dr. Will Roper says the Skyborg program is all about maintaining that coveted American air superiority in the age of AI. It seems that the program is still in the early stages so exactly what Skyborg could look like, what it can do, and how it will go about doing it has yet to be decided, but it is something that the Air Force is looking into.