Autonomy at Sandia National Laboratories

Sophisticated autonomy operations in high consequence, adversarial environments


Industry is investing heavily in autonomy—in areas such as self-driving vehicles, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning—but these technologies typically do not fully address national security needs. While commercial environments are rarely unstructured or contested, national security missions require operations in complex and unpredictable environments. Therefore, national security applications require different characteristics than their commercial counterparts, while also managing size, weight and power (SWaP) and bandwidth limitations. Sandia’s approach to autonomy focuses on the gaps that must be addressed to enable sophisticated operations in high consequence, adversarial environments.

Sandia’s purpose as a national security laboratory is to develop advanced technologies to ensure global peace, and therefore Sandia is always interested in new technology that can advance global security. Sandia is home to a host of engineering capabilities and can take autonomy-enabling technologies from research to development to application – providing enhanced and comprehensive functionality to the warfighter.

Our national security sponsors require highly-customized solutions that train on specialized data sets, and cannot rely on open-source data and algorithms. Sandia develops and customizes artificially-intelligent and autonomous solutions to unique national security mission context.

Autonomy for Advanced Flight Systems works to enable autonomous navigation and terminal guidance through GPS-denied environments on Sandia’s renowned advanced flight systems, to enable strike operations in denied environments.

Onboard Autonomy for Sensing works to enable autonomous ISR operations to reduce or eliminate the required transmission of data in environments where electromagnetic emissions would result in platform detection and geolocation.

Autonomy for Cyber & EW integrates autonomous capabilities into current cyber and EW defense applications to allow systems to respond at machine speed.

The Multi-Domain Cooperative Systems works to enable platforms that can coordinate to better achieve theater coverage and defenses.

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