ABOVE: The DARPA Subterranean Challenge calls on participants to deliver autonomous vehicles that can perform rapid navigation, search, and mapping of underground environments. LEFT: DARPA’s Experimental Spaceplane program to build a new class of hypersonic reusable spacecraft will leverage technologies for autonomous flight and operations.
of adaptive systems to a level that is “cognizant” and can continuously learn from experience and from data it acquires on the fly. A current theme of the overall DARPA research portfolio centers on moving up the AI levels and applying these ever more capable AI systems to many technologies, including autonomy. “Machine learning is still relevant,” Chung noted, offering as an example the need of a threat detection system to tell the difference between a person holding a broom and an AK-47. “Adaptive AI is closing the loop around decisions associated with basic machine learning to outputs where autonomous systems will thrive,” he explained. “Moving from adaptive to cognitive AI, you get to a framework of not only understanding
the environment, but being able to explain and think through scenarios. We’re accelerating our efforts toward that.” Chung says he is excited to do his part in accelerating the rate of technology development and maturation in robotics, AI, and autonomy. Driverless cars might be one of the first ubiquitous technologies to arrive, but as he sees it, we are going to witness many more such arrivals of AI-powered robotics and autonomy. “Human beings are intelligent and autonomous, and we know very well about how many different ways things go right and wrong with people,” Chung said. “So we can learn from ourselves what we need to keep an eye on as we usher in artificial forms of intelligence and autonomy.”