Air Force Uses AI to Accelerate Pilot Training

By Mandy Mayfield
A flight simulator at a Pilot Training Next facility

Photo: Air Force

The Air Force is hoping a suite of new artificial intelligence and augmented reality technologies will help accelerate the speed at which pilots and airmen are trained, the Air Education and Training Command leader said Sept. 18.

“We are actually allowing our students to explore these [AI] tools of learning and measuring what's going on in their brain, what's going on in their body, what's going on with the effectiveness of them doing the job we are trying to teach them to do,” Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast, Air Education and Training Command commander, said at the Air Force Association’s annual Air, Space and Cyber Conference at National Harbor, Maryland.

AETC is in the midst of an experimental program, the Pilot Training Next initiative, which is utilizing AI to train pilots — in hopes of not only streamlining the process of airmen becoming flight ready — but also improving the quality of their education, Kwast said.

“So the data is very promising in that we can accentuate the adult brain to learn fast, better and, I’ll say, [with] more ‘stick’ — meaning that when you learn something you remember it longer and better,” Kwast added.

As pilots use the “emerging technologies” to learn, the Air Force is learning alongside them, aggregating each pilot's data onto a grade sheet, he said.

Although leadership is enthusiastic about the new technologies, the program is still underway and results about its effectiveness aren't available yet,, Kwast said. “We aren’t at the place where we can say what we can do with it yet.” Some of the beta testing should be completed by the summer of 2019, he added.

Maj. Justin Chandler, a Pilot Training Next team member, also touted the technologies, saying they allow future airmen 24-hour access to pilot instruction.

“The artificial intelligence allows us to ensure that they [student pilots] don’t pick up bad habits,” Chandler said.

Topics: Air Power, Air Force News, Aviation, Robotics, Robotics and Autonomous Systems

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