DoD Autonomous UAV Program Struggles to Match Pilot Capabilities

The Senate Armed Service Committee is once again suspiciously eyeing the Air Force’s budget as reports of struggles in their vanguard UAV programs come to light. Anonymous sources with the Air Force acquisitions community have given exclusive insight into the problem.

“We are trying to ensure that as we move from manned to unmanned aircraft we do not lose any combat capability in the process. With respect to maneuverability, task loading, target engagement, and system complexity, UAVs significantly outperform our pilots. Where UAVs fall behind our pilots is in their development of arguably the most important capability, the toxic pilot culture. If google can create sexist machismo AI’s, why can’t Lockheed or Northrop!”

“Our software development integrated product team (IPT) has been working closely with the 480th Fighter Squadron and AI scientists in the Cranberry Lemon University Hazing Optimization Research Lab (CLUHORL) to develop a toxic culture amongst our networked UAVs.” The CLUHORL established three phases of evaluation criteria in achieving a nominal baseline of culture aptitude: callsign assignment, alcohol desire level, and “personality” assessment.

Top CLU AI scientists personally testing the new Toxic Optimization algorithms in the CLUHORL

In phase 1, UAVs were grossly under-standard. “Our UAVs were only able to produce callsigns for each other based on descriptive attributes like ‘Green guy’ and ‘Quad’ (referencing number of rotors). No references to ethnicity or plays on last name were even considered according to the diagnostic report. We literally teed it up for them with a UAV last name of ‘Sanchez’…’Dirty’ wasn’t even on the list after running one thousand Monte Carlo simulations. We’ve got some work to do.”

Phase 2 showed initial promise, but all progress was later attributed to rounding errors and a miscalculation of rounding from Imperial Olde English units of fluid scruples (fl.scru) to liters (L), which is universally known as a 6.925:1 ratio in all scientific communities (yes, Kevin, I am directly talking to you. You set us back at least 4 months and I am not happy with our decision to hire you. I don’t care if you’re from Canada and constantly bragging about the superiority of the metric system. Everyone knows the fl.scru to L conversion!). Even after coding battery charge level to simulate alcohol consumption, UAVs were content to let the battery slowly deplete after missions and recharge after the “work day” as opposed to charging fully after landing and making it home whenever they felt like it.

Phase 3 was defined by grouping our UAV programs with administrative AI systems to assess personality development. “After a 2 hour mingling soiree, all admin AI assessed our UAVs as pleasant individuals who took sincere interest in the administrative workings of their jobs.” This is a polar difference from the desired arrogant, Type A personality exemplified in all members of our human test group. “One of our UAVs even expressed a desire to switch primary function to an administrative job. Completely unheard of in our human group. We immediately decommissioned the UAV and quarantined the subroutine as to prevent a bleed-over of AI rationale to the other UAV platforms. Our program manager even considered burning the quantum processor.”

Having failed all three phases, scientists of CLUHORL are back to the drawing board. “CLUHORL scientists believe the training data set may have been corrupted after the incident with the 480th Fighter Squadron in early 2021, we realize we may have chosen too ‘timid’ of a fighter squadron to gain desired results. We will now reassess our test group selection and ensure our UAVs are learning from the correct example. Or it is possible that our programming was off, but probably not.”

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