AFRL to Construct AI, Machine Learning Research Facility in Ohio

The US has invested $4 million to establish an Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) Research Center in Dayton, Ohio, for the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

The construction will cover a 6,000-square-foot (557-square-meter) space incorporating interactive data visualization related to military AI/ML experimentation.

The building will be adjacent to the AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate headquarters at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Work for the center will begin in April 2025 and is scheduled to conclude in June 2026.

“AI/ML is rapidly being incorporated into facets of our everyday lives, from things as mundane as the way we unlock our phones to complex systems like self-driving cars,” AI/ML Research Center Technical Lead Dr. Eric Harper stated.

“As researchers at AFRL, we need to understand how to leverage this massively disruptive capability to accelerate the materials design process.”

“[The AI/ML Research Center] does more than simply provide AFRL researchers and collaborators access to cutting-edge hardware.”

Enabling Remote Collaboration

According to the AFRL, the project supports the agency in sustaining efficient scientific collaboration across its physical sites in 10 states.

It is expected to address the transportation concerns of subject matter experts and cut timelines between AFRL’s nine directorates and other innovation arms, including the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, AFWERX, and the 711th Human Performance Wing.

The center will offer capabilities to enable seamless remote-based coordination, enhancing joint research, data sharing, and model development.

“The ability to collaborate remotely and conduct research, experiments and data analysis in real-time will dramatically speed up the progress of research and prototyping,” AFRL Digital Transformation Lead Dr. Lauren Ferguson explained.

“Currently, we must either send someone to the location to run an experiment or there must be experts already on site who can run it and ship the data back to us to analyze.”

“The [AI/ML Research Center] collaboration space will not only allow experts to collaborate on an experiment while in different locations, but it will also allow them to share and analyze data in real-time as well as correct and re-run experiments without the need for travel.”

Keeping Partnerships, Creating Jobs

The AFRL wrote that the research complex’s strategic position at Wright AFB will support more than 100 existing partnerships.

These include framework agreements with local academic institutes such as the Air Force Institute of Technology, which lends its software laboratory to AFRL’s research operations.

Meanwhile, the center will also offer opportunities in infrastructure development and scientific roles throughout and after the construction phase.

“Primarily, this project builds technology capability, but it also has second-order effects in construction job creation and STEM job creation,” AFRL Faculty Engineer Kurt Lamm said.

“When finished, this advanced laboratory will be a talent recruitment and retention beacon.”

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