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The ­.S. Military Wants AI to Dream ­p Weird New Helicopters


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aircraft assembly

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is funding efforts to employ artificial intelligence (AI) to conceptualize complex component designs, including the D-FOCUS project which offers alternatives to existing designs.

Using hard-coded physical laws combined with functional requirements provided by a human designer, D-FOCUS can investigate potential concepts. For example, for the moving-water-uphill problem, D-FOCUS has suggested using the Leidenfrost effect—a phenomenon where water droplets on a hot surface create a thin layer of vapor beneath themselves, inducing a repulsive force that makes the water hover above the surface.

Autodesk's Mike Haley believes AI can expand designs beyond limitations imposed by the bias and groupthink to which humans are susceptible. "We are going to think beyond our brains and come up with ideas that we would have never come up with before," he says. "It's like having the world's most wonderful mentor."

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