University of Florida set to become home for Air Force research in assured autonomy

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The Air Force Research Laboratory and the University of Florida kicked off a new university-led Center of Excellence for assured autonomy in contested environments May 13-14 at a meeting in Gainesville, Fla.

The Air Force is interested in this research area because it needs its autonomous systems to be able to execute high-level mission plans with verifiable assurances despite uncertain adversarial environments. In these contested environments, the integrity and availability of sensor information and communications are challenged, and key innovations are still needed to make tools that can operate with limited resources and also account for uncertainty and cyber-security.

The COE relies on a $ 6 million Air Force investment that brings together a diverse team of expert researchers to address the broad nature of research relevant to these challenges. The research team comprises a mix of senior and junior researchers from the University of Florida, Duke University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of California Santa Cruz, and the Munitions, Sensors, and Space Vehicles Directorates within AFRL. All have histories of innovation for Department of Defense problems of interest.

The COE team’s efforts will focus on the availability, integrity, and effective use of information by leveraging its diverse expertise in dynamics, mathematics, control theory, information theory, communications, and computer science.

“This COE is the scientific embodiment of basic research for assured and trustworthy autonomy of the U.S. Air Force’s future cyber physical systems operating in contested environments,” said Dr. Frederick Leve, AFOSR Program Officer for Dynamics and Control.

AFRL views the Center of Excellence program as a prime opportunity for academic engagement and as a pipeline for highly skilled researchers. The hope is that student exposure to AFRL will enhance workforce development by making students aware and excited about career opportunities.

This center joins seven other universities as AFRL partners through the Center of Excellence program. While each has its own very specific research objectives, all strive to enhance collaborations, strengthen AFRL in-house technical capabilities, and generate excitement between AFRL and university researchers in fields important to the future success of the U.S. Air Force. For a full list of AFRL basic research Centers of Excellence, please visit AFOSR’s collaboration site or learn about other AFRL research happening at higher education institutions around the world at https://afresearchlab.com/partner-with-us/higher-education/.

For more information about the Center of Excellence for Assured Autonomy in Contested Environments, visit http://ncr.mae.ufl.edu/aacoe.php.