AFMC Command News

AFRL announces Airlift Challenge, AI-based planning competition

  • Published
  • By AFRL Public Affairs
  • Air Force Research Laboratory
The Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, will host an Airlift Challenge competition Jan. 23 through Feb. 27, 2023, in an online event that seeks to advance state-of-the-art planning algorithms for executing airlift operations.
“A large demand and tight deadlines make airlift operations difficult to plan even under ideal conditions,” said Dr. Andre Beckus, AFRL machine learning researcher. “Unexpected disruptions only further complicate the problem, potentially introducing major delays and stressing planning software to its limits.”
To identify new solutions, AFRL is inviting international researchers to apply their skills and develop unprecedented new algorithms that achieve on-time deliveries while improving efficiencies. Students are also invited to participate and showcase their talents.
“The Airlift Challenge provides a simulation environment in which artificial intelligence, or AI, agents can interact,” Beckus said. “Agents will be tested against a series of scenarios of ever-increasing complexity with evaluation ending when a time limit is reached or when the agent misses too many deliveries.”
During the competition, participants can submit AI agents for immediate scoring to see their rank on a real-time leaderboard. In the end, three overall winners will be announced including a winner in the student category. 
Following the event, winners will be invited to present their solutions to AFRL researchers and given the opportunity to publish a joint paper at the SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing conference April 30 through May 4, 2023, in Orlando, Florida. 
To learn more and to register for the competition, visit Teams are encouraged to register and try out the starter kit ahead of the competition start date. For questions, please contact
About AFRL
The Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit