Recently, an artificial intelligence agent flew the Lockheed Martin VISTA X-62A training plane for more than 17 hours. VISTA, which stands for Variable in-flight Simulator Test Aircraft, can simulate other aircraft’s performance characteristics using the software. It also mimicked the human pilot’s behavior on this occasion.
Lockheed states that this is the first time AI has been used in this way on a tactical aircraft. This platform will be used to test autonomously-flyable aircraft designs.
Dr. M. Christopher Cotting, director of research at the US Air Force Test Pilot School (USAF TPS), stated that VISTA would allow them to parallelize the development of cutting-edge artificial Intelligence techniques with new uncrewed vehicle designs.
This approach and focus testing on new vehicle system designs will quickly mature autonomous technology for uncrewed platforms and enable us to deliver tactically pertinent capability to our warfighters.
Calspan and Lockheed’s skunkworks division collaborated to create VISTA for USAF TPS at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
The USAF upgraded the VISTA X-62A using Lockheed’s Model Following Algorithm and System for Autonomous Control of the Simulation. These systems, when integrated, allow VISTA to perform advanced flight tests that harness AI and autonomy.