For the first time, the UK’s Royal Navy is using artificial intelligence in a test against live missiles at sea, providing a look at the future of autonomous systems in the military. The exercise will take place over three weeks and involve testing two systems: Sycoiea and Startle. The Royal Navy says this is the largest test of its kind conducted thus far.
The test is taking place in the sea near Norway and Scotland; it involves more than 3,000 military personnel, as well as live supersonic and ballistic missiles. Two types of warship called frigate are participating in the exercise, as well as the HMS Dragon destroyer warship.
The HMS Dragon and the frigate Lancaster are equipped with AI and machine learning software, including Startle, which offers personnel real-time alerts and recommendations based on the AI’s monitoring of the ‘air picture,’ according to the Royal Navy.
Joining the system is Sycoiea, which works faster than expert humans to identifying incoming missiles and alerting military personnel about the ideal weapon to take out the missiles before they can cause damage. The AI doesn’t replace the human element, but is instead designed to ‘augment’ their work to improve their rapid response to live missile threats.
The test comes amid the increased use of AI in military systems. Rapid technological developments are changing the future combat landscape, with militaries embracing everything from autonomous systems that can operate in hazardous areas while humans remain away in safety to lasers that can quickly take down threats in the sky.