US, UK defence partners run Swarm and Search Capture the Flag AI challenge

US, UK defence partners run Swarm and Search Capture the Flag AI challenge

US, UK defence partners run Swarm and Search Capture the Flag AI challenge

Due to conclude today – with a final, single-elimination showcase event – the competition opened in early May. The Capture the Flag challenge made use of the Multi-Agent Simulation Suite, developed for AFRL by Georgia Tech Research Institute.

May the best AI win

It uses what is described as an “established scrimmage simulator” that was further refined for this challenge to promote ease of use and integration with autonomous AI agents.

Competitors built autonomous agents to control a small swarm of simulated drones and competed head-to-head against other agents to “Capture the Flag” of the opposing team. Successfully capturing the flag and returning it to the capturing team’s home base results in a victory.

According to the AFRL, the scenarios were carefully designed to ensure realistic conditions, and complex behaviours were needed to succeed. It seems the AI agents had to adapt – learn when to use speed versus stealth, when to attack versus defend, and to remember recent events to adapt their strategies accordingly.

In the early stages of the competition, the teams played in “friendly” matches to learn how their agents reacted to the other players’ agents.

In the above screenshot of simulated gameplay, the red and blue dots represent opposing flags. The yellow dots are the “swarms” attempting to navigate around the environment (turquoise blocks/buildings) to capture the opposing team’s flag.

Operational capability

“Partners like AFRL and DSTL must deliver operational capability to our Air, Space and Cyber Warfighters who share a culture of urgency to outpace future threats,” said Mick Hitchcock, AFRL’s program manager for the Swarm and Search Capture the Flag Challenge. “The goal of this annual challenge is to attract the best and brightest minds to solve autonomy and AI problems and to spark innovation.”

“The event is less about the technology and more about partnering with DSTL and the university and small businesses engaged in the competition. It’s all about the power of these groups coming together on a common problem and generating innovative ideas that can yield real world solutions.”

Its the second iteration of the programme since it began in 2019.

You can read more about the Swarm and Search Capture the Flag programme online.

Image: Georgia Tech Research Institute

See also: U.S. Air Force to launch SpaceWERX technology accelerator