• Credit: DSTL
    Credit: DSTL

The UK's armed forces and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) have collaborated with the US and Australia in an AUKUS trial to accelerate the adoption and understanding of artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous systems.

The AUKUS Trusted Operation of Robotic Vehicles in Contested Environments (TORVICE) trial aimed to identify and resolve vulnerabilities of robotic vehicles and sensors that affect autonomous systems. 

“The TORVICE trial aims to understand the capabilities of robotic and autonomous systems to operate in contested environments. We need to understand how robust these systems are when subject to attack," said Guy Powell, DSTL’s technical authority for the trial.

"Robotic and autonomous systems are a transformational capability that we are introducing to armies across all 3 nations.”

This trial follows the first AUKUS AI and autonomy trial held in the UK in April 2023. In December, AUKUS defence ministers announced their intent to integrate Resilient and Autonomous Artificial Intelligence Technologies (RAAIT) into national programs in 2024.

During the TORVICE trial, US and UK autonomous vehicles conducted missions, including route reconnaissance, whilst subjected to a range of effects generated by Australia. The trial aims to improve the resilience of AUKUS AI and autonomy systems when subjected to electronic warfare, laser, and position, navigation and timing (for example, GPS) attacks. 

“The science and technology will be an absolute game-changer and give us operational advantage," said Lieutenant Colonel Russ Atherton, DSTL military advisor.

"The ability to deploy different payloads such as sensors and logistics across a larger battlespace will give commanders greater options than currently exist.”

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