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February 2, 2022

DARPA selects Northrop Grumman for AI assistant prototype

The prototype is intended to help enhance the Blackhawk rotorcraft aircrews’ skills or abilities.

The US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has contracted Northrop Grumman to develop an artificial intelligence (AI) assistant prototype.

This contract has been awarded under DARPA’s Perceptually-enabled Task Guidance (PTG) programme.

In collaboration with the University of Central Florida (UCF), Northrop Grumman will build an Operator and Context Adaptive Reasoning Intuitive Assistant (OCARINA).

The prototype is intended to aid pilots of the UH-60 Blackhawk rotary-wing aircraft to respond to ‘expected and unexpected tasks’ and successfully complete them.

The rotorcraft pilots conduct visual and instrumented flight, which changes with environmental conditions such as the time of day, weather, and more.

The new solution will help the aircrews to better deal with challenges encountered during a flight mission, which include enemy radar threats or when flying near urban structures, terrain, and people.

It will be incorporated into an augmented reality (AR) headset to help improve pilot awareness and decision-making capabilities.

Northrop Grumman senior autonomy programme manager Erin Cherry said: “The goal of this prototype is to broaden a pilot’s skillset.

“It will help teach new tasks, aid in the recognition and reduction of errors, improve task completion time, and most importantly, help to prevent catastrophic events.”

DARPA’s PTG programme seeks to develop technologies that make AI assistants help users perform complex physical and mental tasks.

It aims to offer wearable sensors such as head-mounted cameras and microphones and AR headsets to PTG AI assistants’ users.

These allow AI assistants to provide audio and visual feedback to the users, which subsequently helps them with task execution.

Last month, Northrop Grumman supplied the AA-52, the 51st US Navy E-2D Advanced Hawkeye production aircraft.

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