Towards Incorporating Artificial Intelligence in the Mission Planning Process

Kane, S., Moody, V, and Harradon, M.

HCI International, Washington, DC (June 2021)

While there are numerous powerful tools to support Navy mission planning, the mission planning process still remains a hybrid planning activity across human operators and advanced tools. Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have seen an increase in interest and use in the mission planning environment.  Yet traditional approaches typically focus on optimizing the performance of the individual operator or the mission planning tool, not the joint problem solving that is needed for the human and AI team necessary in these envisioned mission planning environments. Within this application area, there are significant challenges to overcome for both the human and the AI aspects of mission planning.

Data limitations, such as availability and capturing the right data, present a critical challenge for developing AI-based tools. In addition, there is a broad range of mission types, each with unique nuances, challenges, and processes that continue to make improvements that further complicate the development of AI-based tools. There are also specific considerations of AI-approaches that need to be considered for effective use in the mission planning process. For example, while AI-based approaches can offload extensive processing by the human operator, outcomes of AI-based tools are seldom presented in ways that make it readily understand by a human or fit in with the overall process. This results in new and additional work for the operator as they must manually translate these outcomes into actionable information. New methods are needed to ensure that insights are communicated effectively to operators and effectively fit in and support humans in their own mission planning workflow and specifically consider the benefits of AI-based approaches.

In this paper, we describe an overall approach for incorporating AI into the mission planning process. First, to consider how best to leverage the unique capabilities and constraints of a human operator and artificial intelligence technologies as a cooperative team throughout the mission planning process, we will uniquely frame the human operator and AI system as a single unit and take a joint cognitive system (JCS) analysis approach. This approach will identify the key information to jointly create the most effective mission plan most efficiently. Next, we describe a novel approach, neural policy programs (NPPs) to address some of the critical challenges of incorporating AI into the mission planning process. Finally, we describe our approach for extending to the Starcraft II game and creating a pre-game planning stage to prototype our approaches.

To learn more or request a copy of a paper (if available), contact Stephanie Kane.

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