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Proceedings Paper

Deep HoriXons (DHX): a 3D virtual reality research campus for crowd-sourcing AI innovations in cooperative autonomy (Conference Presentation)
Author(s): Rob Williams

Paper Abstract

OPENING QUOTE MOTIVATING THIS PROPOSED PRESENTATION: In addition to innovations in Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning (AI/ML), there is a need to be able to innovate with speed and agility. “… DoD does not have an innovation problem; it has an innovation adoption problem … Moving in days and weeks rather than months and years is a necessity…” - Statement by Dr. Eric Schmidt, Defense Innovation Board member to House Armed Services Committee, April 17, 2018 ACCELERATING CROWD-SOURCED AI/ML INNOVATIONS: This paper presents a novel crowd-sourcing distance research strategy for not only accelerating innovations in Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning (AI/ML) by moving in days and weeks rather than months and years but to do it with agility while also growing tomorrow’s AI/ML innovators for both commercial and defense priorities. We call this new paradigm for distance research, MOORE for Massive Open Online Research and Engineering (MOORE). The MOORE distance innovation and collaboration concept was developed and refined utilizing 3D virtual environment technology over 10 years under a former multi-million dollar Air Force research internship program called Discovery Lab. The underlying 3D virtual distance research environment utilizes avatar technologies as a unique adaptation of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) concept represented by distance education courses like Udacity, edX, Khan Academy, Coursera, and others. 3D VIRTUAL AI/ML RESEARCH CAMPUS (ARC): In this paper, we will detail the development of the distance research MOORE concept, its associated 3D virtual AI/ML Research Campus (ARC) and the crowd-sourced AI/ML student-team projects being formed in the ARC under a grand challenge umbrella that we call Project Beast Master. We will also demonstrate how this MOORE concept with the 3D virtual ARC environment could facilitate collaboration with interested government, industry, and universities working with these crowds of student teams recruited from across the country. COOPERATIVE AUTONOMY PROJECT BEAST MASTER: These AI/ML projects will explore innovations designed to explicitly support future military Multi Domain Battle (MDB) operations centered around teams of highly-dispersed warfighters and agents (robotic and software) operating in distributed, dynamic, complex, cluttered environments. The AI/ML innovations will initially be pursued at the intersection of two Army Research Laboratory (ARL) Essential Research Areas (ERA) – Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning and Human-Agent Teaming. To motivate and to give focus to the crowds of multidisciplinary student teams recruited to collaborate as avatars inside the 3D virtual ARC, we have organized the initial AI/ML ARC projects in these two ERAs under a Cooperative Autonomy grand challenge umbrella that we call Project Beast Master. DISCOVER LAB – GLOBAL (DLG) AND DEEP HORIXONS (DHX): Although a novel research paradigm, it is based on a highly successful model developed as part of a multi-million dollar Air Force research internship program that operated for 10 years before it ended upon the founding director’s retirement to continue it philosophically as Discovery Lab – Global (DLG), an separate, independently operated 501(c)(3) entrepreneurial Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) lab. The original Air Force program, Discovery Lab, recruited 100-plus engineering and computer science students year round from 40+ universities and colleges across the country. These students collaborated on a broad portfolio of technology areas of interest to the Air Force to include data analytics, robotics, 3D printing, mobile apps, information visualization, wearable technologies, internet of things, cybersecurity and of course, artificial intelligence. To reach students who could not participate on-site, the Air Force program developed 3D virtual campus environments utilizing non-proprietary, open-source virtual environment technology such as Open Simulator (Open Sim). The resulting campus environment which was called Deep Horizons allowed students to participate from across the country …and even globally… as avatar from their university or their residence. All that was required was a computer with internet connection and free software that was provided password-protected access to the research campus environment. This concept of creating a password-protected 3D virtual campus environment to make collaborative distance research opportunities accessible via avatars continues today as Deep HoriXons (DHX). Part of this paper will detailed the construction and operation of DHX which is central to the 3D virtual AI/ML Research Campus (ARC) which will host the crowds of Beast Master human-agent teaming projects. Two example projects being developed for Human-Agent Teaming and Human-Information Interfaces utilizing home-grown 3D printed "drones" and AI-assisted neural interface for human-agent communication will be summarized to illustrate the potential of a 3D virtual AI/ML research campus (ARC) for not only accelerating AI/ML innovations in Cooperative Autonomy but also growing future innovators. STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS: Our goal is 100+ students recruited from across 20+ universities and colleges across the country …and globally … working together inside the 3D virtual ARC on up to 20 Human-Agent Teaming and Human-Information Interfacing student-team projects to demonstrate prototype Cooperative Autonomy capabilities. We will show how the virtual world programming language will allow us to create Cooperative Autonomy research experiment to design, develop, and demonstrate Beast Master proto-type innovations in Human-Agent Teaming and Human-Information Interfaces within a 3D virtual test range. This approach creates tremendous opportunities for collaboration with partners from government, industry, and academia to not only rapid prototype AI/ML innovations around the Beast Master concept but at the same time mentor our nation’s future AI/ML innovators.

Paper Details

Date Published: 14 May 2019
Proc. SPIE 11006, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for Multi-Domain Operations Applications, 110060C (14 May 2019); doi: 10.1117/12.2518316
Show Author Affiliations
Rob Williams, Discovery Lab Global (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 11006:
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for Multi-Domain Operations Applications
Tien Pham, Editor(s)

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