Tactical AI beats a US Air Force colonel in a dogfighting simulation

Whether it’s Deep Blue beating Garry Kasparov at chess, Watson defeating Ken Jennings at Jeopardy!, or Google DeepMind’s AlphaGO besting Lee Sedo at Go, artificial intelligence can’t be underestimated when it comes to taking on the champions and winning.

Well, chalk another win up for AI!

That’s because a new AI system called ALPHA — developed by recent University of Cincinnati doctoral graduate Nick Ernest, now CEO of Psibernetix — recently defeated retired United States Air Force Colonel Gene Lee in an air combat simulator. Not only did Colonel Lee, who has extensive aerial combat experience as an instructor, fail to kill ALPHA’s aircraft during combat, he was also repeatedly shot out of the air by the bot.

According to Lee, ALPHA is “the most aggressive, responsive, dynamic and credible AI I’ve seen to date.”

“ALPHA is an incredibly difficult opponent to face,” Psibernetix CEO Nick Ernest tells Digital Trends. “Even flying against other pilots when ALPHA has severe handicaps to a number of its systems — including speed, turning, missile capability and sensors — it is able to win. There is additional work to be done to both increase ALPHA’s capabilities and improve its model fidelity, but these results represent a significant breakthrough.”

But haven’t there been hard combat video game simulators for years? What is it that makes ALPHA any different to any of the other popular combat sim video games out there?

“Typically, video games have extremely simplified underlying simulation mechanics,” Ernest notes. “These immense simplifications greatly reduce the scope of the problem. AFSIM, the environment ALPHA flies in for this study, is a high-fidelity simulator, which can realistically represent a modern air combat environment with appropriately behaving models for aircraft, sensors, and weapons. Rather than relying on cheating by giving the AI an unfair advantage with its capabilities, we create virtual opponents that present real challenges through legitimate means.”

As for the future, Ernest says he sees tools like ALPHA playing out as next-gen autopilots in real aircraft: possibly as part of manned/unmanned teams in the theater of air combat. “This isn’t just about reaction times; the raw quantity of information flying around is staggering,” he says. “Calculations need to be performed constantly on this massive flow of data, and AI systems are perfectly suited for that job.”

Move over Maverick. In 2016, it turns out you’re no longer the Top Gun!

Health & Fitness

In search of the fountain of youth, beauty companies turn to tech

Beauty tech is a fairly new concept, but at CES 2019, companies such as Olay, L’Oreal, and Neutrogena were fully embracing it with all kinds of gadgets that promise to give you glowing skin.
Gaming

Take a trip to a new virtual world with one of these awesome HTC Vive games

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.
Gaming

Immerse yourself in a new universe with these incredible PSVR games

The PSVR has surpassed expectations and along with it comes an incredible catalog of games. There's plenty of amazing experiences to be had so we've put together a list of the best PSVR games available today.
Gaming

You're never too broke to enjoy the best free-to-play games

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially-popular League of Legends.
Emerging Tech

Want to know which drones are flying near you? There’s an app for that

Want to know what that mysterious drone buzzing over your head is up to? A new system developed by AirMap, Google Wing, and Kittyhawk.io could soon tell you -- via a map on your phone.
Emerging Tech

A Japanese hotel fires half its robot staff for being bad at their jobs

Japan’s oddball Henn na Hotel has fired half of its 243 robot staff. The reason? Because these labor-saving machines turned out to be causing way more problems than they were solving.
Emerging Tech

CERN plans to build a massive particle collider that dwarfs the LHC

CERN already has the world's biggest particle accelerator. Now it wants a bigger one. Meet the 9 billion euro Future Circular Collider that will allow physicists to extend their study of the universe and matter at the smallest level.
Emerging Tech

Forget fireworks. Japan will soon have artificial meteor showers on tap

Tokyo-based startup Astro Live Experiences is preparing to launch its first artificial meteor shower over Japan, serving as a showcase of its prowess in the space entertainment sector.
Cars

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.
Emerging Tech

Glowing space billboards could show ads in the night sky

Look up at the night sky in 2020 and you might see an ad for McDonald's floating among the stars. A Russian startup is working on a project that uses a constellation of small satellites in low-Earth orbit to create glowing ads.
Emerging Tech

New brainwave reader tells teachers if students are concentrating

Massachusetts-based startup BrainCo has developed brainwave-reading headbands which can reportedly help reveal if students are concentrating in class. Here's how they're being used.
Emerging Tech

Fears about kids’ screen use may have been overblown, Oxford researchers find

Many people take it as gospel that digital technologies are harmful to young people’s mental health. But is this true? A recent study from the University of Oxford takes a closer look.
Emerging Tech

Meet Wiliot, a battery-less Bluetooth chip that pulls power from thin air

A tiny chip from a semiconductor company called Wiliot could harvest energy out of thin air, the company claims. No battery needed. The paper-thin device pulls power from ambient radio frequencies like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cell signals.
Emerging Tech

Hexbot is a modular robot arm that does everything from drawing to playing chess

Who wouldn’t want their own personal robot arm to do everything from laser engraving to competing against you in a game of chess? That's what Hexbot, a new modular robot, promises to deliver.