In March 2018, the French Defense Procurement Agency DGA contracted Dassault Aviation and Thales to develop an innovation-producing ecosystem based on AI and applicable to military aviation: this preliminary study program is called Man Machine Teaming (MMT). The goal is to identify innovations, evaluate them, bring them to maturity, and eventually integrate them into the development of new fighter jets, namely the future Rafale standards and the New Generation Fighter. End 2018, 19 projects had already started in MMT involving 16 companies, 8 startups and 4 labs across all of France. A second set of 19 projects was notified in November 2019. These studies span the six topics covered by MMT: virtual assistant and smart cockpit, human-machine interactions, mission management, intelligent sensors, sensor services, and robotized support and maintenance. As part of the design of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), the Man-Machine Teaming (MMT) project explores the feasibility of developing a cognitive air system.
An innovative partnership: disruptive technologies and methods
A PARTNERSHIP ECOSYSTEM
- MMT is Innovation focused.
- MMT is a broad ecosystem bringing together every expertise and using a collaborative work approach involving all stakeholders.
- For research organizations, startups or SMEs from all fields, the goal is to contribute — while ensuring the protection of each participant’s intellectual property — to advances applicable to future combat aviation in order to develop sovereign capabilities.
- Initiated and funded by DGA, Dassault Aviation and Thales are in charge of setting up the partnerships. They will also ensure that the order placement and payment system runs smoothly.
- The two companies will call for proposals from the ecosystem with full funding of the selected partners.
The principle of the cognitive air system is to equip the various machine systems with greater autonomy and artificial intelligence dedicated to a broader and reshaped Human-Machine relationship. In this approach, intelligent systems would no longer be limited to simply executing actions requested by an operator. They would allow collaborative work that would make operator actions and decisions more efficient and optimized while mobilizing less of the operator’s mental and physical resources.
Such systems would have greater knowledge of situations thanks to various perception and analysis capabilities (state of operators, interactions, actor intent prediction, tactical combat situations, etc.) This capability would allow the systems to learn from situations encountered, to adapt accordingly and to share relevant information in order to assist operators in decision making and planning. To ensure the high performance level required for successful missions, this Cognitive Air System would also include new interaction processes that are more natural and better suited to the situations encountered by operators.
Within this context, the role of the MMT project is to initialize the identification of technologies liable to be integrated into this Cognitive Air System. If the technologies are not sufficiently mature, MMT’s role is to help develop them. One of the originalities of this project is the idea of conducting these technology developments in collaboration with a French ecosystem of startups, SMEs and research organizations already involved in exploring, using or producing these emerging technologies.