The Army Artificial Intelligence Integration Center (AI2C) understands that speed is often a key component of success, particularly in modern warfare settings.
Located at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, AI2C leads and integrates Army artificial intelligence (AI) strategy and implementation, synchronizes key development efforts and sets the foundations for operationalizing AI within the Army.
The center’s existence enables the Army to increase its familiarity with AI applications and better connect with AI innovators in America’s private sector, including with vibrant AI communities located in Pittsburgh and in Austin, Texas, where Army Futures Command – AI2C’s home command – is headquartered.
AI2C’s research also serves to inform Department of Defense (DoD) efforts to leverage AI in expanding and expediting the development of U.S. military capabilities.
The center additionally coordinates with Carnegie Mellon to provide advanced learning opportunities, including leadership courses, an AI scholars program and a cloud computing certificate program, to members of the Army workforce.
AI2C does all of this with two key motivators in mind: that AI has the potential to greatly accelerate the Army’s ability to make optimal decisions and take swift strategic actions on the battlefield, and that identifying and applying such transformational technologies ahead of American adversaries is paramount to operational success.
Tackling these challenges from Pittsburgh affords AI2C unique and productive insights into the forefront of AI technology development. A myriad of hardware and software start-ups have emerged in the city over the years, some partially as a result of DoD-sponsored research in the area. Because of this, collaboration and sharing of challenges, solutions and opportunities is inherent in many of AI2C’s interactions with innovative Pittsburgh-based companies.
Pittsburgh is also a growing tech hub; during a recent visit to Pittsburgh, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo remarked that "anyone who comes to Pittsburgh and sees it, it's not just one robotics company. It's not just that [Carnegie Mellon University] is here. It's a vibrant and deep ecosystem of technology innovation."
As a result of strategic acquisitions and talent proximity, a number of large tech companies are present or plan to develop a presence in the city, joining recent tech ‘unicorns’ Argo AI and Duolingo with offices already in Pittsburgh.
Adding to the tech energy in Pittsburgh is the presence of cutting-edge academic research facilities and influential government-affiliated or government-funded entities like the Software Engineering Institute and the Rand Corporation.
The Army positioned AI2C, formerly the Army Artificial Intelligence Task Force, in Pittsburgh specifically so it could take part in these technology developments and discussions and tap into a robust industry environment focused on delivering innovative solutions at speed.
The virtuous cycle of innovation between Pittsburgh and Austin is also beneficial, and was prevalent in the Army Applications Laboratory’s recent Fire Faster Project. After visiting both startup communities, Army Futures Command leadership encouraged Army Applications Lab staff, who are based in Austin, to also visit Pittsburgh. Ultimately, nearly half of the companies included in the project after the down-selection phase came from Pittsburgh’s “Robotics Row,” an area of the city with a concentration of tech businesses that is sometimes compared to California’s Silicon Valley, albeit on a smaller scale.
Another key ingredient in successful innovation hubs that is abundant in Pittsburgh is talent. The Army consistently underscores that its most valuable resource is its people, and this is no different in the AI space. With guidance from Army senior leadership, AI2C not only develops material AI solutions but also pilots training and education programs to develop the AI workforce needed by the Army. These programs leverage the world's #1 rated in data analytics and data systems/engineering schools at Carnegie Mellon to generate a workforce embedded with development partners, researchers, federally funded research and development centers and industry.
AI2C additionally supports the AI assessment and planning needs of Army Futures Command’s Cross-functional Teams (CFTs), identifying enabling technologies and providing roadmaps to accelerate the development of AI capabilities that support Army modernization priorities. These advising sessions draw upon previous research and current insights to save time and money during the exploration of new solutions. In the case of one CFT consultation, AI2C was able to move from concept to working system in 10 months, in time to experiment with the system at Project Convergence 2020.
With the support of Army Futures Command leadership, AI2C plans to test multiple advanced technologies on tactical platforms in the years to come, with assistance from defense industry innovators. AI2C also plans to continue drawing from important academic research, and is pleased by Carnegie Mellon’s plans to construct a new Robotics Innovation Center. The new center will add 150,000 square feet to Carnegie Mellon’s robotic research capabilities on the grounds of the 183-acre technology campus, which currently houses multiple robotics career organizations and the DoD's Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing group. The university is repurposing nonoperational steel mill facilities as technological research hubs, redeveloping local communities and providing a national model for local partnership initiatives as part of the expansion.
AI2C’s overarching work is driven by the Army AI Strategy, which establishes five lines of effort for modernization by 2035: 1) set the conditions, 2) develop the workforce, 3) modernize our platforms, 4) establish AI governance and partnerships and 5) ensure the ethical implementation and utilization of artificial intelligence. AI2C plans to address these lines of effort by leveraging AI ecosystems, strengthening relationships with academia and harnessing existing Army AI expertise throughout the workforce.
AI2C’s goal is to reduce acquisition timelines so that the Army can deliver creative and effective AI solutions to Soldiers faster, and the center is confident that Pittsburgh is the place to be to make this happen.