UK Announces AI Warship Contracts

Britain's Ministry of Defense today announced contracts to create "revolutionary" warships that use artificial intelligence (AI) to make quicker decisions.

The Defense and Security Accelerator (DASA), part of the Ministry of Defense (MoD), said that an initial funding wave of £4m had been allocated to the project.

"The funding aims to revolutionize the way warships make decisions and process thousands of strands of intelligence and data by using Artificial Intelligence," said DASA.

The contracts are part of DASA’s Intelligent Ship—The Next Generation competition, which seeks to uncover inventive approaches for Human–AI and AI–AI teaming across a variety of defense platforms, such as warships, aircraft, and land vehicles. 

The competition was set up to source tech-based solutions that will prove effective in 2040 and beyond, with the possibility to completely change the way warships are built and how they operate. 

DASA, on behalf of the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), is looking at how future defense platforms can be designed and optimized to exploit current and future advances in automation, autonomy, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. 

Nine projects will share an initial £1m to develop technology and innovative solutions capable of overcoming the increasing information overload faced by Royal Navy crews. 

"Crews are already facing information overload with thousands of sources of data, intelligence, and information. By harnessing automation, autonomy, machine learning and artificial intelligence with the real-life skill and experience of our men and women, we can revolutionize the way future fleets are put together and operate to keep the UK safe," said Julia Tagg, technical lead from Dstl.

Despite being titled Intelligent Ship, a warship is just the prototype demonstrator for this competition. Effective technological solutions born from the project could be rolled out to the British Army and also the Royal Air Force.

"The astonishing pace at which global threats are evolving requires new approaches and fresh-thinking to the way we develop our ideas and technology. The funding will research pioneering projects into how A.I and automation can support our armed forces in their essential day-to-day work," said Defense Minister James Heappey.

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