Raytheon Intelligence & Space partners with Virginia Tech and Southern Methodist University on artificial intelligence and machine learning research

Harnessing AI/ML capabilities from research universities for defense systems will strengthen military capabilities in future multi-domain operations

ARLINGTON, Va., (February 23, 2021) – Raytheon Intelligence & Space, a Raytheon Technologies business (NYSE: RTX), is partnering with Virginia Tech and Southern Methodist University to advance artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities that enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of military systems. Virginia Tech will receive $225,000 and SMU $175,000 under separate initial multi-year agreements. RI&S plans to increase funding to both universities as their research progresses.

“Our AI/ML partnerships with world-class research universities Virginia Tech and SMU will help us lead breakthrough developments in areas like automated sensor processing,” said Barbara Borgonovi, vice president of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Systems for RI&S. “Our shared project objective is to experiment with how AI/ML can be fused into military systems to enable users to make effective decisions faster and with less effort, revolutionizing the future battlespace and warfare strategies.”

The project, Raytheon Technologies Applications of Artificial Intelligence to Defense Systems (RAAIDS), will advance key aspects of RI&S’s smart software called Cognitive Aids to Sensor Processing, Exploitation and Response, or CASPERTM, for application to a variety of defense systems. These capabilities will reduce sensor operator workload while increasing the number of targets and intelligence objectives being addressed within a shorter timeline than has been achievable in the past.

Under RAAIDS, Virginia Tech and SMU will work collaboratively to develop AI/ML technologies for sensor automation and operator cognitive aids that can be deployed within systems such as the Multi-Spectral Targeting System, which provides visible and infrared intelligence and targeting information for an array of airborne platforms.

The Virginia Tech focus will be on research associated with sensor automation and closed loop control.

“Virginia Tech’s Hume Center has been at the forefront of developing the autonomous mission orchestration and reinforcement learning for warfighters to effectively manage operations. This project allows us to put this technology into their hands quicker and provide the training they will need to operationalize it,” said Professor Michael Fowler at Virginia Tech.

The SMU focus will be on competency-aware machine learning and human machine teaming.

“The image analytics that we are developing will not only help operators identify objectives but will also push the bounds of the state of the art in image understanding—it’s an exciting opportunity,” said Eric Larson, a professor at SMU and researcher in the Darwin Deason Institute for Cyber Security.

Raytheon Intelligence & Space is applying AI/ML technology to enable faster and more accurate decisions for operators in capabilities including automated sensor processing and control, natural language processing, and cognitive decision aids. 

“In addition, this research project strengthens our opportunities by building relationships with talented professors and students who are developing expertise in the application of AI/ML techniques to real-world problems. It also enables us to incorporate our development tools within their laboratories to help speed transition of research results to our customer applications,” said Jim Wright, RI&S technical director for ISRS.

The research partnership with each university will continue through 2022.


Media contact:

Tamar Brill


[email protected]


About Virginia Tech Hume Center for National Security and Technology

The Hume Center for National Security and Technology is an interdisciplinary center at Virginia Tech focused on developing the next generation of leaders for the national security community.  The Hume Center leads Virginia Tech's research, education, and outreach programs focused on the challenges of cybersecurity, autonomy, and resilience for the national security community. Education programs provide mentorship, internships, scholarships, and seek to address key challenges in qualified US citizens entering federal and industry service. Current research initiatives include machine learning and artificial intelligence, autonomous and multiagent systems, assured and secure communications, space and undersea missions, and 5G security.

About Southern Methodist University (SMU)

SMU is the nationally ranked global research university in the dynamic city of Dallas.  SMU’s alumni, faculty and nearly 12,000 students in eight degree-granting schools demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit as they lead change in their professions, communities and the world.

About Raytheon Intelligence & Space

Raytheon Intelligence & Space, a Raytheon Technologies business, delivers the disruptive technologies our customers need to succeed in any domain, against any challenge. A developer of advanced sensors, cyber services and software solutions, Raytheon Intelligence & Space provides a decisive advantage to civil, military and commercial customers around the world.