DAF-MIT AI Accelerator recognizes New York City Guards as a key player in bringing AI capabilities to combat.  > Air National Guard > Viewing Articles

DAF-MIT AI Accelerator recognizes New York City Guards as a key player in bringing AI capabilities to combat. > Air National Guard > Viewing Articles


Cambridge, Mass. – The Air Force-Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Artificial Intelligence Accelerator Department depends on tactical-level Airmen to bring artificial intelligence capabilities to combat.

On September 21, Colonel Garry Floyd, Director of the DAF-MIT AI Accelerator, made a surprise appearance at the 174th Attack Wing in Syracuse, New York and presented Captain Timothy Cullipher with the first “AIA Top Stakeholder Award ” in person. This prestigious and highly selective award is reserved for Airmen and Guardians who go above and beyond to bring emerging AI technology to the field.

For several years, Cullipher spoke regularly with the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, New York, to learn about cutting-edge developments and brainstorm ways to link research to operations. During this time, Cullipher met Tech. sergeant. Armando Cabrera, former geospatial intelligence analyst and founding member of the DAF-MIT AI Accelerator. Cabrera and his team at MIT invented an AI model capable of generating synthetic color images from radar images, improving overall readability.

“We don’t have enough people who can properly exploit synthetic aperture radar imagery,” Cullipher said. “You have to be a fairly well-trained analyst to understand what’s going on.” Cabrera’s AI model allowed more operators to analyze SAR images faster in a way that humans are used to reading images, in color.

For AI systems to work well, they require large amounts of usable data, and Cullipher saw an opportunity to help AI accelerator DAF-MIT advance its research. With the support of the 174th Attack Wing leadership, Cullipher worked tirelessly to ensure the data was publishable. “We spent most of the year working on monitoring Intel, making sure we had the right usage memoranda, making sure we were navigating all the bureaucracy, working with the head of safety for unmanned aerial systems, to have the data approved for release to academia to further this research,” Cullipher said. Their tireless efforts have enabled the DAF-MIT AI accelerator to mine hundreds of gigabytes of data per day.

Captain Victor “SALSA” Lopez, MQ-9 pilot and project manager at the DAF-MIT AI Accelerator, took the lead in testing Cabrera’s AI model. After ensuring the model worked using SAR data from the MQ-9, the race was on to test the model in an upcoming exercise, Valiant Shield 2022.

Using another connection unlocked by Cullipher, AI accelerator DAF-MIT partnered with AFRL to use their Agile Condor, a cutting-edge computing device that allowed Lopez to run the AI ​​model. It took Lopez two days to upload Cabrera’s code and test it on Agile Condor, and only a few minutes to run the code on Valiant Shield once the first SAR images were uploaded.

“The fact that we went from an academic paper to operations in less than four months was breathtaking and seeing how operators began to use model information to make relevant tactical decisions has been worth the whole team. process,” Lopez remarked after the test.

“We’re increasing the human-machine association,” Cullipher said. “You’ve got this rambling little custodial unit in New York, and just everyone’s willingness to respond to emails and all of a sudden we were able to shake things up.”



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