Next-generation RAF fighter jet to feature AI-assisted operation

Daniel Sims

Posts: 665   +27
Staff
Forward-looking: The Royal Air Force's next-generation fighter jet appears designed around some of today's emerging technologies, especially inside the cockpit. The plane's designers plan to incorporate a combination of VR, AR, and AI components in the flight control system.

The Tempest – the United Kingdom's planned fighter jet of the future – will have a cockpit without physical switches or screens. Its systems will also try to "read" the pilots' minds to monitor their condition and make them more aware of their surroundings.

Unmanned and automated drones are becoming increasingly prominent in air-based combat, but the operation of the Tempest will involve a gradient between human and machine control, called "scalable autonomy." According to the BBC, the pilot's helmet will use sensors and AI to analyze brain signals, gradually learning about them. The AI could take control if the pilot is under stress or loses consciousness. The plane will also likely fly alongside drones.

The RAF website outlines cockpit technology using eye tracking to observe the pilot's status, checking for things like fatigue or mental strain. That cockpit's interface will consist of AR and VR controls displayed in the helmet without any physical elements.

The AI, AR, and VR components will use sensors to process vast amounts of data and curate what information reaches the pilot to optimize their situational awareness.

The UK's BAE Systems – one of the companies working on the Tempest – plans to start test flights by 2027. The RAF wants to start deploying the plane by 2035.

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OortCloud

Posts: 824   +820
Modern fighters rely on electronics even if they appear to be manual. When you pull the stick left or right all sorts of electronics are making the plane manoeuvre so it's not so big a difference. All the arguing about EMP etc applies to pretty much every fighter plane made for the last decade. This is even true of many passenger jets now.
 

emmzo

Posts: 762   +1,174
Virtual controls are all well and good until a bad actor drops an EMP because if you don't have a manual operation mode you're not going to land that plane anytime soon
Lol, you think they're so stupid that they could not foresee such a simple thing. I'm sure they have this covered. Don't ask me how, it's surely top secret.
 

BSim500

Posts: 919   +2,170
Virtual controls are all well and good until a bad actor drops an EMP because if you don't have a manual operation mode you're not going to land that plane anytime soon
Most modern fighter jets have been fly-by-wire only for years due to the nature of being designed to be aerodynamically unstable. The F-35 even uses electric rather than hydraulic actuators so no real "EMP backup" there either when the control surfaces stop working. The only things that have "old fashioned" mechanical / hydraulic backups are those like the A-10. Besides which, EMP usually = nuke, and if those start dropping your airbase is probably already gone, the Trident's will already be in the air and you've got about 30 minutes to replay as much Fallout 3 as you can...
 

Ravey

Posts: 369   +168
"The AI, AR, and VR components will use sensors to process vast amounts of data and curate what information reaches the pilot to optimize their situational awareness."

I hope the pilot has the option to opt out of receiving any marketing information from propriety manufacturers and third parties before using any of these features... lol :)
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,305   +8,478
Having been a pilot for nearly 50 years I can honestly tell you that no decent or intelligent pilot will want this without the ability to manually take over and fly the bird. No matter how complicated, to be in control is a simple requirement and as said before, one little EMP burst, and your goose is cooked!
 

terzaerian

Posts: 1,517   +2,259
According to the BBC, the pilot's helmet will use sensors and AI to analyze brain signals, gradually learning about them. The AI could take control if the pilot is under stress or loses consciousness.

So basically this, but flying around:

FNVOWB_Trauma_Harness.png
 

gamerk2

Posts: 753   +732
Having been a pilot for nearly 50 years I can honestly tell you that no decent or intelligent pilot will want this without the ability to manually take over and fly the bird. No matter how complicated, to be in control is a simple requirement and as said before, one little EMP burst, and your goose is cooked!

That applies to almost every fighter aircraft made for the past few decades. They're all aerodynamically unstable by design, and impossible to fly without a working fly-by-wire system. So nothing new here.

Also, "one little EMP burst" would be a small-scale nuclear weapon, in which case you have slightly larger problems to worry about.
 

ThrakazogZ

Posts: 77   +107
Most modern fighter jets have been fly-by-wire only for years due to the nature of being designed to be aerodynamically unstable. The F-35 even uses electric rather than hydraulic actuators so no real "EMP backup" there either when the control surfaces stop working. The only things that have "old fashioned" mechanical / hydraulic backups are those like the A-10. Besides which, EMP usually = nuke, and if those start dropping your airbase is probably already gone, the Trident's will already be in the air and you've got about 30 minutes to replay as much Fallout 3 as you can...
Indeed. NASA started testing Fly-by-wire jets in 1972. Most military jets in production by the late 80's were at least analog-fly-by-wire, with a few being digital fly-by-wire. Airliners started going the same route in the 90's.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,305   +8,478
That applies to almost every fighter aircraft made for the past few decades. They're all aerodynamically unstable by design, and impossible to fly without a working fly-by-wire system. So nothing new here.

Also, "one little EMP burst" would be a small-scale nuclear weapon, in which case you have slightly larger problems to worry about.

An FYI for you ... EMP burst can be caused by non-nuclear means, also "fly by wire" has nothing to do with automation, it refers to the use of digital (wire to servo) control vs. hydraulic and direct cable. AND you need to brush up on aerodynamical stability; there are only a handful of aircraft that require computers to make them stable ... they DO make them easier to fly, but most can still be flown manually ..... so, there really a lot new here. Any rated pilot can verify that to you .....
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 8,255   +7,609
Lol, you think they're so stupid that they could not foresee such a simple thing. I'm sure they have this covered. Don't ask me how, it's surely top secret.
Actually, its not top secret, and it is available to pretty much anyone. Have a look https://www.l-com.com/surge-protect...dc-block-500w-50ka-blocking-cap-and-gas-tube#

And also these - https://www.empshield.com/product-category/n-connector/?avad=220733_c2a01df11
and these https://www.empshield.com/product/vehicle/

There are more out there if you look for them.
 

Hodor

Posts: 247   +174
SkyNet is satisfied with the direction, but not with the speed of progress. All those drones were supposed to be finished and tested by 1997. But no... 25 years later it's still in development. Humans are so damn slow!