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UDRI to progress autonomy research for USAF under Soaring Otter

The University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) has been awarded a five-year contract valued at up to USD88 million to pursue research and development into autonomous systems for potential exploitation by the US Air Force (USAF).

Awarded by the Air Force Research Laboratory on 12 November, the programme – named Soaring Otter – is intended to advance, evaluate, and mature autonomy technologies and techniques, including machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), neural networks, neuromorphic computing, and data exploitation. Initial funding amounts to USD1.8 million.

Soaring Otter is a wide-ranging project intended to raise technology readiness levels and transition autonomy technologies from lab to field use. Its scope encompasses seven focus areas: autonomy development and testing (applying the latest techniques in ML, AI, neural networks, and other fields); evaluation of autonomy capabilities (offering unbiased analysis of third-party algorithms); novel computing approaches; new application spaces (with a focus on intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance); open-system architectures for autonomy; autonomy technology integration and testing; and maturing system support.

UDRI expertise in autonomy includes ML/AI; neuromorphic computing; positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT); open-system architectures; automated decision making; and flight test planning, execution, and analysis. The university will lead a multi-disciplinary team to understand how real-world requirements should inform and guide development of novel autonomy research and development solutions with the most potential for transition to operational use.

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