The US Department of the Air Force (DAF) has chosen Howard University to lead a University Affiliated Research Centre to support tactical autonomy related research.

The selected university will receive a grant of approximately $12m annually to support the associated research, students and staff members for a period of five years.

The centre will primarily focus on tactical autonomy technology for various US military systems.

Under the science research partnership effort, Howard University will work to establish necessary engineering, research and development capability related to tactical autonomy for supporting the US Air Force (USAF) and Department of Defense’s (DoD) missions.

The university will be responsible to lead a consortium of historically black colleges and universities (HBCU).

It includes Florida Memorial University; Tuskegee University, Alabama; Bowie State University, Maryland; Hampton University and Norfolk State University in Virginia; Jackson State University; Delaware State University and Tougaloo College, Mississippi.

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US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said: “Autonomous systems make our military faster, smarter and more combat credible.

“They equip commanders with the best possible information to support life-and-death decisions. And I have no doubt that advancements that will come out of Howard’s new research centre will do even more to protect most precious asset-our men and women in uniform.”

Currently, the DoD has 14 university affiliated research centres that work together with DoD officials and industry partners to conduct basic, applied and technology demonstration research.

The latest Howard University partnership will allow the DAF and Air Force Research Laboratory to deliver operationally relevant autonomy for military platforms.