Boeing completes autonomous teaming flights in Australia

Boeing completed flight tests with five AI-controlled jets operating in formation at the new Queensland Flight Test Range in Cloncurry, Australia.

The team flight involved 3.4-meter (11-foot) aircraft fitted with Boeing’s onboard command and control and data sharing capabilities. The test campaign took place over 10 days with aircraft added one after the other until the five operated together. During testing, the aircraft reached speeds of 270 kilometers (167 miles) per hour, according to the manufacturer.

“The tests demonstrated our success in applying artificial intelligence algorithms to ‘teach’ the aircraft’s brain to understand what is required of it,” said Emily Hughes, director of Phantom Works International. “The data link capabilities enabled the aircraft to communicate with the other platforms so that they could collaborate to achieve a mission.”

The technology and experience accumulated throughout the testing will be used for the Australian Loyal Wingman Advanced Development Program, Boeing’s most expensive investment outside of the United States. The program aims at developing an unmanned aerial vehicle, the Airpower Teaming System (ATS), capable of providing fighter-like performance

On October 22, 2020, the first of three ATS prototypes rolled out under its own power. The drone is expected to take to the skies by the end of 2020.


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