Thought Leadership

A Forward Look on AI in A&D Part One – Summary

By Quinn Foster

The rapid rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has become undeniable. What was a peripheral technology just a few years ago is now experiencing a boom with numerous potential applications across multiple industries. As the Talking Aerospace Today podcast covered in previous episodes, aerospace and defense (A&D) is one such industry that can especially capitalize on AI as it undergoes a growing workforce shortage and increasing product complexity.

The latest episode from the podcast begins building on that last conversation by taking a more forward look on AI’s role in A&D and how it can change the future of the industry. To guide listeners, Todd Tuthill, Vice President of A&D for Siemens Digital Industries Software, is joined by Barclay Brown, Ph.D., ESEP, Associate Director for AI Research for Collins Aerospace and leader for the AI Systems Working Group at INCOSE. Together, they highlight just how fast AI has risen in importance, challenges standing in the way of its adoption, and the full extent of its potential applications.

The rise of AI

How quickly AI has risen to become a game changing tool across industries cannot be understated. Todd demonstrates this simply by pointing to the market cap of NVIDIA, one of the biggest innovators in AI technology today. In October of 2022, its market cap was $300 billion. In March of 2024, that number has risen to an incredible $2 trillion. According to Todd, it was one of the fastest market cap rises for any company in history. This showcases AI’s growing importance in the coming future.

In light of this, AI’s integration into A&D engineering processes can seem inevitable. In fact, Todd has predicted in previous episodes that by 2033, AI will dramatically change the way aerospace products are designed and that there will be two types of companies. There will be those who embrace AI, and those who are out of business. With such a rapid rise, however, Todd suggests these changes may not take as long as he initially predicted.

Challenges to adoption

Despite the incredible excitement around AI, there are still obstacles to clear that can hinder its adoption. According to Barclay, two key challenges are a lack of user knowledge of what AI can do and a lack of trust in AI.

Many people are not knowledgeable on exactly how AI works and what it can do. Some think AI can do things it should not be used for, while others are unaware of its full range of applications. Much of Barclay’s work involves educating people about AI at a deeper level, giving people better intuition on which tasks can be better accomplished with AI or with human engineers.

Additionally, as with any new, cutting-edge technology, there are plenty of people who do not trust AI. This is especially true in the A&D industry as many aerospace programs are either data sensitive or outright classified, and people can be worried about AI keeping such data secure. However, Barclay explains this is not so much an AI question, but rather a question of the infrastructure AI runs on. As discussed in previous podcast episodes, AI can utilize data from companies’ local databases instead relying on public sources such as the Internet, keeping proprietary data safe from potential prying eyes.

Toward the holodeck

The existence of solutions for these challenges is great news, as the future for AI in A&D engineering processes is boundless. As Barclay describes, ordinary computing capabilities, once unheard of decades ago, can now be done everywhere from personal computers to the Cloud. In his eyes, AI will turn out the same way. The potential applications for AI can be found everywhere, and a future where AI is prevalent everywhere is certainly possible.

One common throughline throughout this episode has been the holodeck from Star Trek. In some episodes, the holodeck acted as an automated design space, where characters could use natural language and have their design considerations automatically applied to a virtual representation of a ship being designed. The day that capability becomes reality is still very far off, but with every new innovation made in AI, that day is approaching faster.

Stay tuned for the next episode of Talking Aerospace Today and the conclusion of this discussion on AI.

Siemens Digital Industries Software helps organizations of all sizes digitally transform using software, hardware and services from the Siemens Xcelerator business platform. Siemens’ software and the comprehensive digital twin enable companies to optimize their design, engineering and manufacturing processes to turn today’s ideas into the sustainable products of the future. From chips to entire systems, from product to process, across all industries. Siemens Digital Industries Software – Accelerating transformation.

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