U.S. Navy Aviation Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Alexandra Mimbela performs maintenance on an F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213 aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Aug. 21, 2014.

U.S. Navy Aviation Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Alexandra Mimbela performs maintenance on an F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213 aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Aug. 21, 2014. Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian Stephens

Predicting When Weapons Will Break is a Hot New Market. Microsoft Wants In.

The company touts its commercial artificial intelligence as ripe for the military.

As the Pentagon shops for technology that can predict when its weapons might break, Microsoft (MSFT) is shopping its artificial intelligence to defense decision makers in Washington.

The firm’s touting its technology comes as companies large and small look to score deals in this emerging military market.

“Using a lot of [this machine learning technology] really is about lowering your total cost of ownership for a particular asset,” said Jim Ford, director of cloud strategy and solutions for Microsoft Federal, while showing off the technology on Tuesday at a pop-up exhibit in Washington just blocks from the White House.

The Redmond, Washington-based company — probably best known for its personal computer operating system — has been demonstrating its AI and machine-learning tech for military officials in recent weeks. The push comes as rival Google looks to distance itself from a different type of Pentagon artificial intelligence project — one that uses the algorithms to identify objects in drone video.

Senior military officials, especially in the Air Force, say they need need artificial intelligence-driven predictive maintenance technology. The tech is already is used by commercial airlines. And the Air Force is experimenting with predictive maintenance technology on its C-5 cargo planes and B-1 bombers — two aircraft historically in short supply due to frequently-needed repairs.

Microsoft and engine-maker Rolls-Royce built a platform that predicts when aircraft power plants will break down. The program also manages the necessary maintenance and logistics for parts supplies.

“Rolls-Royce did not go out and replace their entire infrastructure,” Ford said. “What they did is they understood what they could use with their existing infrastructure and … put a layer of smarts on top of it.”

Being able to modernize existing supply chains and collect data from military planes and ships — which in many cases are decades old — is key.

Even on older military aircraft, there are still instruments that already gather data that maintainers can collect after a flight.

“There’s ways of being able to collect the data,” Ford said.

If the part fails for an airline, it could result in a canceled flight, or worse, a crash. For the Pentagon, it could also mean the success or failure of a mission. Ford said the technology could help the Navy improve readiness levels of its F/A-18 fighter jets and ships.

The system Microsoft built for Rolls-Royce combines machine learning with its Dynamics 365 and Azure programs “to aggregate all of the sensors and where the data is coming from off the aircraft,” he said. (Microsoft programs can run tailored algorithms created by other firms.)

Related: Here’s How Google Pitched AI Tools to Special Operators Last Month

Related: For Sale: Artificial Intelligence That Teaches Itself

Related: The US Air Force Is Adding Algorithms to Predict When Planes Will Break

Each Rolls-Royce engine is “instrumented with thousands of sensors” that record data, Ford said. One engine on the tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey aircraft creates about one terabyte of data on an average flight.

“Rolls-Royce understood that was an asset,” Ford said. “That data was as much part of their solution as a physical piece of equipment.”

During a demonstration of the program, data generated from an engine appeared on a giant touchscreen. The data showed a plane engine was burning more fuel than usual.

“Now when you talk about the aggregation of data, a lot of times you’re using machine learning — whether it be in a supervised or an unsupervised fashion — in which it should be able to provide correlated analytic insights,” Ford said. “You don’t necessarily know the cause, but now you can start to piece together ... if there’s an issue without having to look at things from a serial perspective.”

The data showed an engine valve was mispositioned and temperature levels were not normal. The machine then predicted a part would fail before its scheduled maintenance, allowing the airline to change the part before it broke.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.