DARPA uses computer game to learn anti-submarine warfare tactics

April 5th, 2011

DARPA is developing a new component to track “quiet submarines” to be part of the Navy’s Anti Submarine Warfare toolkit and is using a software game to collect effective strategies for its use.

“Before autonomous software is developed for ACTUV’s computers, DARPA needs to determine what approaches and methods are most effective. To gather information from a broad spectrum of users, ACTUV has been integrated into the Dangerous Waters™ game. DARPA is offering this new ACTUV Tactics Simulator for free public download.

This software has been written to simulate actual evasion techniques used by submarines, challenging each player to track them successfully. Your tracking vessel is not the only ship at sea, so you’ll need to safely navigate among commercial shipping traffic as you attempt to track the submarine, whose driver has some tricks up his sleeve. You will earn points as you complete mission objectives, and will have the opportunity to see how you rank against the competition on DARPA’s leaderboard page. You can also share your experiences and insights from playing the simulator with others.”

This is a kind of crowdsourcing — leveraging the experiences of a large number of people playing a game. Applying various kinds of machine learning algorithms to the simulator data could be an effective way to train an autonomous tool for this task.