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MIT, Air Force to Open A.I. Accelerator Lab

USAF maintenance

Air Force maintenance personnel at an air base in Japan (U.S. Air Force)

20 May 2019. The U.S. Air Force is funding research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology to speed development of artificial intelligence advances for its mission. The Air Force says it plans to spend $15 million per year on a new research center called the MIT-Air Force A.I. Accelerator, although the length of time of the initiative was not disclosed.

The program aims to fill a need by the Air Force for faster prototyping, scaling, and application of A.I. algorithms and systems, bringing together MIT scholars and Air Force experts. Some 10 projects are expected to be formed covering Air Force operations and related issues, such as disaster response and medical readiness. MIT says advances from the funded research are also expected to benefit the broader society.

The agreement calls for MIT to form interdisciplinary groups to study underlying A.I. technology issues, including control theory, machine learning, robotics, and computer perception. But the teams are also expected to bring in experts on broader issues of technology policy, history, and ethics. The program anticipates conducting research on A.I. to assist humans in aspects of planning and control of data management, maintenance and logistics, vehicle safety, and cyber resiliency.

“We plan to assemble interdisciplinary teams that will collaborate across disparate fields of A.I. to create new algorithms and solutions,” says Daniela Rus, director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, in a university statement. Rus adds, “Our objective is to advance the underlying science behind A.I. and facilitate societal applications, including helping create solutions in fields like disaster relief and medical preparedness that are of interest to the Air Force.”

The MIT-Air Force A.I. Accelerator will be part of a new College of Computing at MIT that plans to open in the fall of 2019. The Accelerator program will reside at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, a research and development center funded by the Department of Defense.

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