AI and Aerospace and Defense
Research powerhouse Gartner estimates that artificial intelligence will generate over $1 trillion in value to businesses in 2018, possibly reaching a staggering $3.9 trillion by 2022. AI, machine-based learning that utilizes human intelligence functionalities like planning, problem-solving, and reasoning, can process massive datasets to obtain insights and train itself to provide useful information. Few other industries stand to gain as much as the aerospace and defense industry. The aerospace and defense indsutry stands to realize efficiencies, cost savings, and new areas of growth from AI while driving innovation in the AI space through its practical, real-life implementation of machine learning, data and data-driven insights.
AI and Aerospace and Defense: a game changer
AI offers distinct advantages to the A&D industry. The most obvious benefits are in the areas of private-government partnerships, cost savings, process innovation and safety enhancements. Many companies have already implemented “internet of things” systems, such as sensors on planes that provide real-time data on a flight or warehouse scanners that track a part from start to finish. The industrial IoT is yielding comprehensive data on maintenance, design enhancements and gaps in safety. These massive amounts of data cannot be managed by simple software programs; only AI can effectively manage and analyze large datasets to derive value. Aerospace companies stand to benefit from this targeted analytical capability, including the following areas:
- Predictive maintenance for vehicles, such as airplanes or drones.
- Identification of security breaches for corporate and onboard systems.
- Enhanced product design and development.
- Improved pilot training and safety standards.
- Better flight paths that are fuel saving and eco-friendly.
- Enhanced business understanding of resource utilization.
Examples of these benefits already abound in the marketplace. For example, airlines are using AI to predict flight delays and improve the ticketing process.
Private businesses that are currently developing AI technologies stand to benefit significantly from the increased government focus on AI. Commercial entities, such as Google and Amazon, have already proven the value of AI for nondefense-related processes and products that create efficiencies and drive innovation. For example, Google’s AI Federated Learning offers a device-shared prediction model that helps conserve battery life, protect the data on each individual device, and decrease latency. This innovation could serve to better support security and device functionality in defense operations, where battery life and device operation serve critical functions.
The modern defense industry is finding itself with less money and more possible areas of conflict. AI can not only support the core mission and ecosystems of defense departments but also augment their current capabilities with the following:
- Better approaches to protecting civilians and military personnel.
- Accurate weaponry that can avoid civilian casualties.
- Lighter, tougher equipment and tools.
- Improved satellite information (GIS, GPS) that can aid in planning and executing campaigns.
- Enhanced state security at home and abroad.
Governments already recognize the need to effectively utilize AI. For example, Pentagon spending for AI in fiscal 2017 increased to $7.4 billion. Since technology evolves very quickly, A&D will increasingly rely on AI to stay ahead of both the market and potential threats.
A&D will accelerate AI innovation
The clearest impacts of A&D will be derived from its significant monetary, resource and data investments in AI. Governments can fund more complex, expensive projects than those typically found commercially, but groups of commercial investors will have a powerful impact on the direction of AI. Boeing and its partners recently invested in SparkCognition to the tune of $32 million. The A&D industry also has access to unique data sets, such as flight information, that will drive innovation in the AI space. Of course, AI can also help recruit the best employees, as innovations and learning in A&D naturally garner the interest of talented innovators.
AI and Aerospace and Defense: A lasting partnership
AI and A&D will serve to complement each other in the coming decade. As more commercial and defense agencies implement AI solutions for their businesses and operations, the amount of available data will contribute to the advancement of increasingly smarter machine-based systems. These newer, smarter AI will drive costs lower while improving the safety and accuracy of products and services. As machine learning improves, it will open up new areas of growth and opportunity in commercial markets and between nations. Increasing partnerships between government entities and commercial businesses for the effective utilization of AI and Aerospace and Defense landscape will be altered for the foreseeable future.