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NEWS | July 18, 2023

New Partnership “AIMMs” to Further Advance Artificial Intelligence

By NSWC Crane

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) and Trine University are expanding their partnership, enhancing their focus on advancing the Artificial Intelligence for Maritime Maneuver (AIMM) effort.

This unique partnership, funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) focuses on two separate efforts, an artificial intelligence training simulator and a Low Profile Vessel (LPV). Overall, AIMM works to provide a low-cost, easy-to-build, LPV that can be made fully autonomous for a variety of mission sets; supply delivery system, stealth missions, locator purposes, etc.

AIMM also builds a solid foundation to eventually achieve swarming technology and collaborative autonomy, with the initial goal of intercepting illegal drug shipments.

Practical experience, societal impact

The AI training simulator will run across an 18-month timespan, focusing on swarming technology and collaborative autonomy, incorporating the individual AI into a virtual environment. The LPV effort will build a 12-foot vessel with sensor packages, working to develop a fully autonomous LPV.

The AIMM partnership offers a unique opportunity to research and develop advanced autonomous robotic delivery systems for maritime platforms. Currently, the grant is funding 14 students split working on both AI and the LPV, and eight faculty and staff overseeing the research.

This is a hands-on experience for the students, and the collaboration allows for test capabilities in both a training simulator modeling a real-world environment with a culminating competition next year.

“A key part of education at Trine is providing our students, particularly our engineering and computing majors, practical experience on real-world projects,” said Assistant Vice President of Trine innovation 1, Jason Blume. “It’s a bonus when those projects also have the potential to make such a positive impact on our society.”

The grant also has allowed Trine University to purchase state-of-the-art equipment that will be used in design, building and testing processes throughout the project. This includes a large-scale 3D and metal 3D printer, a water tunnel and particle image velocimetry equipment to perform precise measurements.

Naval Academy collaboration

The collaboration further expanded to the United States Naval Academy (USNA) where midshipmen participated in an internship program. USNA midshipmen visited NSWC Crane for three weeks to learn more about warfare centers and assist with the AIMM effort.

During the internship, they spent three days at Trine University and experienced active collaboration with the Trine students.

“The best part of the visit to Trine University was getting the hands-on experience of helping with the LPV build. Both the build and AI team were open to our input, and the staff treated us as if we were a part of the Trine family,” said USNA Midshipman Will Robinson.

The faculty at Trine University welcomed the midshipmen to the AIMM team.

“Hosting the Naval Academy midshipmen allowed us to put a human face on this project and see those who may benefit from the systems we are developing. There was an immediate camaraderie between these future officers and future civilian engineers, and it was great to see the collaboration between them as we work together toward a common goal,” said Blume.

Students at Trine University not only saw the value in the collaboration, but got to meet the warfighters who might use their products in the future.

“From the visit I was able to take an understanding of the people that our project will aid in making their job easier and potentially safer,” said Mason Bledsoe, junior Extended Reality major.

The partnership between Trine University and NSWC Crane spans several years. Over the years the two entered into Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) that allow for sharing of critical information, allowing university senior design teams to complete multiple projects for Crane.

The AIMM effort will conclude with the Artificial Intelligence Maritime Maneuver Indiana Collegiate Challenge (AIMM ICC) scheduled to take place in May 2024. Universities across Indiana will have the opportunity to compete and demonstrate the ability to make a fully autonomous LPV with object detection and identification. This opportunity helps students compete and prepare to become the future workforce of the Department of Defense.

About NSWC Crane NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today's Warfighter.

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