Drones and AI Preferred by U.S. Navy to Monitor Rusting Issues

Drones and AI Preferred by U.S. Navy to Monitor Rusting Issues

Simple Technology Solutions, a Google partner, will use Google Cloud artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies on inspection drone-captured images to detect, prioritize, and predict its maintenance needs.

Fremont, CA: Recent reports have shown that the U.S. Navy is currently facing a USD 20 billion rust problem. Corrosion can hinder or even disable ships and aircraft at sea. However, monitoring rust is an expensive process, costing nearly USD 3 billion per year, and a time-intensive process for the Navy that is already understaffed. As a result, service leaders turn to artificial intelligence software and drone photos to automate tasks and bring down the costs, Google announced today. Simple Technology Solutions, a Google partner, will use Google Cloud artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies on inspection drone-captured images to detect, prioritize, and predict its maintenance needs. 

Top 10 Naval Tech USA Consulting/Service Companies - 2020Google's ability to identify abnormalities in images with artificial intelligence helps detect cancer, find problems in wind turbines, and spot potholes in Memphis streets. This can help build a large enough database of images of a particular type, train the algorithm to spot things like cellular abnormalities or rust on the side of a ship. "The only difference here is just the training inputs to the model," said Mike Daniels, the public sector vice president at Google Cloud. 

STS will use drone photos and images in the public domain to build the model using Google Cloud AutoML, which lets organizations build custom AI products. Navy corrosion experts will help STS label and train the data using Google Cloud's AI Platform Data Labeling Service. "This is one of those areas where it's critical that the U.S. Navy can automate key processes like ship and vessel inspection," Daniels said.

This marks yet another sign of the warming relationship between Google and the Defense Department. Previously, the company helped the Department of Defense develop Project Maven, an AI program that allows human analysts to sort video footage troves to find targets. In April 2018, when Google's involvement in the program was revealed, many engineers and developers protested. The company said it wouldn't renew the contract. But it did draft an ethical principles list to lay out what sort of AI projects it would work on in the future. They've since won contracts to provide the Pentagon with cybersecurity services. Daniels declined to say whether the company was in discussion to offer similar object-identification for maintenance for other services or parts of the military.

See also: Top Drone Technology Companies

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