Navy Unmanned Task Force Lead: Common Control System Critical to Enable Artificial Intelligence

An MH-60S Sea Hawk and MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle, assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, conduct concurrent flight operations as a manned-unmanned team while embarked on the Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Jackson (LCS 6) . US Navy / Lt. jg Alexandra Green

ARLINGTON, Va. The head of the Navy’s Unmanned Task Force said a control system common for aerial, surface and underwater unmanned systems is still the goal as the Navy develops and fields unmanned systems for the fleet, and is critical to enabling artificial intelligence for data management.

“Certainly,” said Michael Stewart, leader of the Unmanned Task Force, speaking to reporters May 25 at the Pentagon, when asked if the Common Control System is progressing to operate for all three domains.

“If you’re going to enable AI [artificial intelligence]if you’re going to have multiple sensors, you have to solve the open-architecture data management problem and you have to have a common control system so that you can take all of this sensor data and then put it in something where you can run the algorithms,” Stewart said.

“We’ve talked with some of our allies of their journey through that it only highlighted that that is the critically important thing,” he said. “When I showed up at NATO at first, some people were talking about standards and open architecture, I really didn’t understand the importance of it.

“Now that I’ve seen it in operation with some of the allies, I understand critically why it’s important and why we have to go do that right, because if you want to make AI a thing with a whole bunch of different sensors, you ‘ve got to be able to do that,’ he said.

The Unmanned Task Force is a team of teams with the mission of “bending the curve” of fielding unmanned systems to solve operational problems and deliver solutions more rapidly.

“We’re doing unmanned to solve operational problems; we’re doing artificial intelligence to solve operational problems,” Stewart said.

He also said funding had to be very agile to move funding around portfolios to achieve rapid development where it is needed most.

Stewart said the task force wants experimentation to establish the relative value of various unmanned concepts and systems while “dispelling the mythology of unmanned and AI.”

“Let’s let them prove what we think they can do,” he said.

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