A significant milestone was achieved with the inaugural trial of AI and autonomy under the AUKUS initiative. The primary objective of this trial was to expedite the adoption of these cutting-edge technologies in a responsible manner for military applications.

During the project, Australian, UK, and US AI-enabled assets were deployed together in a coordinated swarm to actively identify and monitor military targets within a realistic operational setting. This collaborative effort in real-time target detection and tracking showcases the significant advancement in coalition military capability that can be achieved through the accelerated development of these technologies.

Led by the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), the trial achieved remarkable milestones, marking a series of world-first achievements. These include groundbreaking accomplishments such as the real-time retraining of AI models during flight operations and the successful exchange of AI models among the AUKUS nations. The collaborative efforts within the AUKUS partnership aim to expedite the integration of these cutting-edge technologies into military capabilities, fostering rapid advancements in the field.

Under the AUKUS Advanced Capabilities Pillar, also called Pillar 2, Australia, the UK, and the US have embarked on a trilateral program focused on advancing cutting-edge technologies and capabilities to enhance security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. Within Pillar 2, there is a concerted effort to foster collective knowledge and expertise in AI and autonomy technologies. The aim is to expedite the deployment of resilient and reliable AI and autonomy systems in complex operational environments, all while upholding the shared principles of safe and ethical AI practices.

Autonomy and AI will transform the way Defense operates. The strategic environment is rapidly evolving, meaning technologies must adapt rapidly to maintain an operational advantage. By sharing AI – and the underpinning data to enable it – with one another, Australia, UK, and US militaries can access the best AI, reduce duplication of effort, and ensure interoperability.

More than 70 military and civilian defense personnel and industry contractors were involved in the exercise in April 2023. The trial utilized a variety of air and ground vehicles to test target identification capability, including Blue Bear Ghost (UK) and Boeing/Insitu CT220 (AUS) uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs), Challenger 2 tank, Warrior armored vehicle and Viking uncrewed ground vehicle (UGV), along with a commercially hired FV433 Abbot self-propelled gun and former Eastern Bloc BMP OT-90.

The trilateral teams collaborated to develop joint machine-learning (ML) models, apply test and evaluation processes, and fly on different national UAVs. The ML models were quickly updated to include new targets and shared among the coalition, and AI models were retrained to meet changing mission requirements. (Press Release)

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Post Image- AI-enabled drones in th AUKUS Advanced Capabilities Pillar trial (Image Credit: UK MOD)