The UK’s armed forces and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) recently collaborated in an AUKUS TORVICE trial in Australia.
Press Release, Whitehall, 05 February 2024: The UK’s armed forces and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) recently collaborated in an AUKUS trial in Australia. Dstl and UK armed forces collaborated with Australia and the US in an AUKUS trial to accelerate the adoption and understanding of artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous systems.
The AUKUS Trusted Operation of Robotic Vehicles in Contested Environments (TORVICE) trial aimed to identify and resolve vulnerabilities of robotic vehicles and sensors that affect autonomous systems. Understanding and mitigating the impact of such threats is critical to effective and reliable use of such systems on future operations.
The TORVICE trial follows the first AUKUS AI and autonomy trial held in the UK in April 2023. In December, AUKUS defence ministers announced their intent to integrate Resilient and Autonomous Artificial Intelligence Technologies (RAAIT) into national programs in 2024. The TORVICE trial takes us a step closer to adopting these technologies in the land domain.
During the trial, US and UK autonomous vehicles conducted a large number of missions, such as, route reconnaissance while subjected to a range of effects generated by Australia. Outcomes will improve the resilience of AUKUS AI and autonomy systems when subjected to electronic warfare, laser and position, navigation and timing (for example, GPS) attacks. This will also ensure systems reliably deliver capability in the testing environments of the modern battlefield.
Guy Powell, Dstl’s technical authority for the trial, said: “The TORVICE trial aims to understand the capabilities of robotic and autonomous systems to operate in contested environments. We need to understand how robust these systems are when subject to attack. Robotic and autonomous systems are a transformational capability that we are introducing to armies across all 3 nations.”
Dstl military advisor, Lt Col Russ Atherton, said: “The science and technology will be an absolute game-changer and give us operational advantage. The ability to deploy different payloads such as sensors and logistics across a larger battlespace will give commanders greater options than currently exist.”
Accelerating the development of these technologies is expected to have a massive impact on coalition military capability while reducing risk to warfighters. This collaboration enables all 3 AUKUS nations to access the best resilient AI and autonomy:
- improving interoperability
- streamlining efforts
- benefiting from each other’s science and technology expertise
TORVICE AI Trial: AUKUS is a landmark defence and security partnership between Australia, the UK, and the US that supports security and stability in the Indo-Pacific and around the world. Our work to deepen cooperation on a range of cutting-edge military technologies, known as AUKUS Pillar 2, will help deliver enhanced military edge for us and our allies, making sure we have the capabilities needed to defend against rapidly evolving threats. Through Pillar 2, our countries are collaborating to accelerate collective understanding of AI and autonomy technologies, and how to rapidly field robust, trustworthy AI and autonomy in complex operations while adhering to international law and ensuring the safe and responsible use of AI.
~ $ ~
AUKUS Defence Scientists Test Robotic Vehicles
Press Release, Washington DC, 05 February 2024: Defence scientists from Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States collaboratively tested a range of robotic vehicles and their sensors during a trial at Cultana Training Area, South Australia.
The Trusted Operation of Robotic Vehicles in a Contested Environment (TORVICE) trial was conducted in fall 2023 to identify and resolve vulnerabilities faced by autonomous systems in a congested electronic warfare environment.
Dr Peter Shoubridge, Chief Land and Joint Warfare at Defence, said the trial was designed to test autonomous vehicle behaviour when under attack. “Understanding how robotic vehicles react in contested environments accelerates our collective know-how and helps improve the system to overcome such attacks,” Dr Shoubridge said.
A network of robotic ground vehicles from the United Kingdom and the United States were configured to represent autonomous Multi-Domain Launchers and Uncrewed Ground Vehicles conducting Long Range Precision Fires and associated missions. The vehicles carried no weapons during the trial. Australian scientists then subjected the vehicles to electronic warfare, electro optical and position, navigation, and timing attacks.
“Transitioning trusted robotic capabilities into the hands of our warfighters safely and ethically is a priority,” Dr Shoubridge said.
TORVICE is part of the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia’s commitment to the AUKUS Advanced Capabilities Pillar, known as Pillar II, under the Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy Working Group. The trial is part of an ongoing series pursuing a trilateral program of work on a range of leading-edge technologies and capabilities to promote security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
Dr. Kimberly Sablon, the US Department of Defense’s Principal Director for Trusted Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy, said “The TORVICE project builds upon the work the AUKUS partners demonstrated in Salisbury in April. During this exercise, we performed rigorous red teaming of our autonomous/AI systems to assess and mitigate vulnerabilities and to improve their resilience in contested and complex environments.”
Through AUKUS, Australia, the UK, and the United States have collaborated to accelerate collective understanding of AI and autonomy technologies, and how to rapidly field robust, trustworthy AI and autonomy in complex operations, while adhering to the shared values of safe and responsible AI.
TORVICE follows the first AUKUS artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomy trial held in the UK in April. The aim of this AUKUS collaboration is to rapidly drive these technologies into responsible military use.