Researchers are Trying to Include AI into Hypersonic Weapon Technology

Researchers are Trying to Include AI into Hypersonic Weapon Technology

Researchers are Trying to Include AI into Hyper Sonic Weapon Technology

A research collaboration led by researchers from the US Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratory is trying to apply Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Hyper Sonic Weapon Technology to increase the capabilities of hypersonic vehicles such as long-range missiles. 

With the researchers of Sandia, many universities including Georgia Institute of Technology, Purdue University, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, The University of New Mexico, Stanford University, Texas A & M University, The University of Texas at Austin, and Utah State University have made collaboration to focus on academic partnerships and develop customized autonomy for hypersonic flight.

In a special interview with R & D magazine, Alex Roesler, a senior manager of Sandia, who leads the coalition, explained how to improve hypersonic vehicles by using Artificial Intelligence.

"We have an internal R & D effort which we refer as a hyperSonic mission campaign," he said. "Ultimately, the goal is to make our hypersonic flight systems more autonomous to give more utility. They are autonomous today from the perspective of they work on their own, they are unmanned systems, they fly with an autopilot. We basically want to include a high level of Artificial Intelligence in them, which will make them a system that can be wisely adaptable to their environment".

Currently, a test launch for a hyperSonic weapon - a long-range missile flying a mile-per-second or even faster-takes weeks of planning. By the use of Artificial Intelligence and Automation, researchers believe that this time can be more reducable.

Roesler explained why it is so difficult to apply new technology like Artificial Intelligence to hypersonic weapon systems. "The biggest challenges itself is with the flight environment," he said. "It is very difficult to plan for and successfully fly in because of the challenges you face from an aerodynamic and an aerothermal approach."

According to Roesler, hypersonic vehicles often fly through the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds more than 5 Mach, which is almost a mile away. This means that the aerothermal load on the vehicle can be extreme and very difficult to predict.

"So you want to make sure that whatever you do with the vehicle as you fly it will stay within the aerodynamic and aerothermal performance limits of the system". "As far as it is more challenging to include such things as autonomous planning and implementation of new flight trajectories than some of the flight systems that do not have those same types of obstacles".

The comprehensive ambition of Autonomy New Mexico is to develop an idea for other industries, which can improve safer and secure autonomous transportation, manufacturing, space, agriculture, and more. If the group reaches its goals, they will have created computing algorithms that compress 12 hours of calculations in a single millisecond, all on a small, onboard computer.

The hypersonic mission campaign will be for a total of six and a half years and they hope that the success of the research will be found in the next two years. Stay tuned for more updates on AI.

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