WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force has kicked off a competition for one of its most highly anticipated tech programs, a drone known as Skyborg that will use artificial intelligence to make decisions in battle.
The service released a solicitation May 15 for Skyborg prototypes, which will merge autonomous, low-cost aircraft with a suite of artificial intelligence capabilities.
The Air Force envisions Skyborg as a family of drones — each designed for a specific mission or set of missions — with modular hardware and software payloads and a common AI backbone, which will allow software to be rapidly updated across the fleet.
The Air Force intends to give multiple companies $400 million to develop different versions of the Skyborg system, although it reserves the right to award just one or no contracts. Proposals are due June 15, with awards projected around July 8, according to the solicitation.
Once under contract, companies will “conduct research to develop, demonstrate, integrate and transition air vehicle, payload and autonomy technologies and systems that will provide affordable, revolutionary capabilities to the warfighter through the Skyborg program,” the Air Force said.