A flotilla of small boats swarmed into the Solent in a large-scale UK Ministry of Defence exercise to aid in the develop Artificial Intelligent (AI) systems in identifying craft and their occupants. Britain did it again.
The exercise included a total of 13 vessels, with over 130 personnel participating in various formations such as close groups, convoys, and simulated beach assaults, over five days across an 18-mile expanse of the Solent. The Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the Royal Navy orchestrated the drill, with the intention of collecting extensive data, including photos and videos, of marine movements and beach landings. The data compilation for the exercise was extensive, utilizing visual, infrared, sonar, and radar data, alongside other details like the location of the platforms and sensors, meteorological conditions, sea states, and additional situational context.
AI systems under development will employ this ‘training dataset’—which includes both the imagery and ‘metadata’—to discern the nature of the vessels and their occupants, differentiating between systematic behavior (indicative of military activity) and more irregular patterns (likely civilian). The operation spanned from Hurst Castle to Browndown near Gosport, where the teams, despite facing strong winds of up to 40 knots, carried out landings that showcased various boarding and disembarking techniques to reflect a range of behaviors. Scenarios ranged from coordinated beach landings, typical of military units, to disorganized exits from the boats to enrich the dataset with diverse patterns of human behavior.
This trial was a joint effort with 12 industry and international partners, involving UK sailors and soldiers, setting the stage for the nation’s forthcoming AI Summit.Charlie Maslen, the Dstl’s trial technical authority, acknowledged the ambition and complexity of the trial, which leveraged expertise from a previous land-based exercise and involved coordination across land, sea, and air, in conjunction with a myriad of industry collaborators.The trial’s data will not only contribute to the refinement of AI technologies but will also support the Ministry of Defence and its industry partners in the creation of new AI-driven defense products, all while maintaining a commitment to ethical, safe, and responsible development.