British Army uses AI for the first time

Artificial intelligence has been used during a British Army operation for the first time.

Soldiers from the 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade used an AI engine which provides information on the surrounding environment and terrain.

Through the development of significant automation and smart analytics, the engine is able to rapidly cut through masses of complex data.

Providing efficient information regarding the environment and terrain, it enables the Army to plan its appropriate activity and outputs.

The technology was used during ‘Exercise Spring Storm’, a part of Operation Cabrit.

Operation Cabrit is the British Army’s deployment to Estonia where British troops are leading a multinational battlegroup as part of the enhanced Forward Presence.

During the annual large-scale NATO exercise, soldiers from France, Denmark, Belgium, Estonia and the UK used the technology whilst carrying out live-fire drills.

The government said that in future, the UK armed forces will increasingly use AI to predict adversaries’ behaviour, perform reconnaissance and relay real-time intelligence from the battlefield.

“The deployment was a first of its kind for the Army,” said the Army’s director of information, major general John Cole. “It built on close collaboration between the MOD and industry partners that developed AI specifically designed for the way the Army is trained to operate.”
Cole added: “The lessons this has provided are considerable, not just in terms of our support to deployed forces, but more broadly in how we inform defence’s digital transformation agenda and the best practices we must adopt to integrate and exploit leading-edge technologies.”

The AI capability can be hosted in the cloud or operate in independent mode.

Defence has received an increase in funding of more than £24 billion across the next four years.

The Ministry of Defence plans to spend £6.6billion over the time period in defence research and development, focusing on emerging technologies in artificial intelligence, AI-enabled autonomous systems, cyber, space and directed energy systems.

“This was a fantastic opportunity to use a new and innovative piece of technology in a deployed environment,” said major James Mcevoy, 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade. “The kit was shown to outperform our expectations and has clear applications for improving our level of analysis and speed at which we conduct our planning. I’m greatly looking forward to further opportunities to work with this.”

Artificial Intelligence has already been incorporated in a number of key military initiatives, including the Future Combat Air System, and is the focus of several innovative funding programmes through the Defence and Security Accelerator.

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