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Air Force Research Laboratory, partnered with Wright Brothers Institute, announce International “Swarm and Search AI Challenge”

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  • By 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – The Air Force Research Laboratory and the United Kingdom Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, or DSTL, in collaboration with Wright Brothers Institute and University of Dayton Research Institute, are proud to announce, the “Swarm and Search AI Challenge: 2019 Fire Hack.” The challenge will explore new, efficient and resilient ways to plan complex Unmanned Aerial Systems search and rescue missions. Concurrent challenges in the U.S. and the U.K., will conclude with a final showdown taking place March 29 - 31, 2019.

The theme of this challenge revolves around mapping wildfires and assumes that improved mission planning, and the ability to react to dynamic changes, has the potential to minimize damage and save lives. Solutions spawned by the challenge may also apply to defense applications. Teams will work remotely, via a closed, online collaboration platform to explore different fire map scenarios using Air Force-licensed software. All teams will benefit from exposure to new markets and a chance to test their technology against their competition. Once the top 10 teams have been selected, an international showdown will take place March 29 - 31 in order to select the top three teams from the U.S and the U.K. Those teams will be awarded cash prizes and learn about upcoming funding opportunities. The highest scoring solution will be showcased at the 2019 AUVSI Conference and the UK Embassy Showcase in Washington D.C.

AFRL and DSTL are utilizing this innovative approach to find the best Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning algorithms that embody efficiency and resiliency. Both labs benefit by discovering and engaging with new partners.

“It is fantastic to be able to work with DSTL on this project,” said Mick Hitchcock, AFRL program manager. “The activity fits right into both countries’ desire to approach research differently, and involves non-traditional, innovative thinkers as partners and most importantly, get results faster. The competition is not between the two countries, but to highlight the ability to rapidly work together on tough problems.”

“Swarming UAS is rich with innovation and we are looking to solve perceived problems and invent new ways of controlling swarms of drones,” said Timothy Wright, DSTL’s Aerospace Systems Group Leader. “There are also a number of Science and Technology challenges already commissioned in this area that link closely with the proposed outputs from this challenge.”

U.S. registration began Jan. 15, 2019 and runs through Feb. 26, 2019. The online competition concludes March 15, 2019. For more information, visit

About the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)

AFRL is the premier research lab of the United States Air Force, leading the discovery, development and delivery of new warfighting technologies. AFRL employs more than 5,700 researchers and scientists who execute a $5B annual budget on behalf of the USAF. AFRL sponsors technology transfer programs that bolster the industrial base, create jobs and foster the next generation science and technology workforce by extending its technology to American consumers. The organization has contributed to significant advancements in modern communications, electronics, manufacturing, and medical research and products.

To learn more about AFRL, visit or follow us on Twitter at @AFResearchLab, on, on Instagram at @afresearchlab, or on LinkedIn at Air Force Research Laboratory.

About DSTL

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory works to apply cutting-edge science and technology to keep UK Armed Forces, and the British people, protected from harm. DSTL is an executive agency of MOD, run along commercial lines. It is one of the principal government organizations dedicated to science and technology in the defense and security field, with six sites: at Porton Down, near Salisbury; Portsdown West, near Portsmouth; Fort Halstead, near Sevenoaks; Sandridge, near St Albans; Langhurst, near Horsham; and, Alverstoke, near Gosport.

DSTL works with a wide range of partners and suppliers in industry, in academia and overseas. For more information, contact the DSTL press office on 01980 956845 or 07384 210107.

About Wright Brothers Institute

Wright Brothers Institute is a cutting-edge innovation and technology commercialization center for the Air Force Research Laboratory, with facilities located just outside of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio. WBI drives fast, agile innovation that enables successful technology development to solve the Air Force’s most complex challenges by leveraging resident experts, unique facilities, disruptive innovation processes and extensive networks. We leverage subject matter experts and intellectual property from AFRL and SBIR companies to unlock the right problem, connect to new partners and synchronize transition pathways through our commercialization partners. Utilizing the Partnership Intermediary Agreement contract vehicle, WBI provides connectivity between the government and intermediary organizations such as state and local governmental agencies and nonprofit entities to perform partnership intermediary services.

To receive updates about future events at all Wright Brothers Institute locations, visit