An advanced ecosystem in which artificial intelligence plays a key role. A whole galaxy of applications, products and services with an important focus on the technological component and on skills.
The galaxy of artificial intelligence applications at Leonardo
Artificial intelligence is one of the key focuses of technology in Leonardo’s innovation ecosystem, around which a complex network of research gravitates
involved in research and development
to develop innovative technologies
with industrial and institutional partners
One of the most powerful supercomputers in the AD&S industry worldwide
invested in research and development in 2022
with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) qualifications
Leonardo is exploring the new frontiers of innovation, drawing on its investment in Research and Development, which totalled € 2 billion in 2022, and the 12,200 Leonardo Group people involved in this area (out of a total of more than 51,000 employees all over the world). This constant drive has led to the creation of a network of technological hubs - 11 Leonardo Labs - operating on the basis of an open innovation model that cuts across all business areas. The labs bolster a constant flow of talent, guaranteeing flexibility and updating of professional skills and abilities. A call for recruiting is currently under way to support the company’s commitment to reaching the target of 200 researchers by 2023.
In this context, in which “data” is the pivot around which the technological challenge revolves, one of the most important themes is artificial intelligence. AI is a set of technologies that allows machines to self-learn on the basis of experience and data, to interact with their environment, boost the autonomy of systems and constitute an essential element supporting people in everyday life, whether at home and at the factory. This is why AI is one of the most interesting disciplines on today’s technological and scientific scene, and a key factor in the current digital transition in progress, in which Leonardo plays a leading role. The company sees AI as a driver to focus on in order to become an “AI Intensive Company”, as part of a wider-ranging approach integrating technology, innovation, and sustainability as key elements of business development.
An in-depth report on the programme “Studio aperto Mag- NEXT - Generazione Europa”, aired on the television channel Italia 1, produced in collaboration with Italy’s representatives on the European Commission, offers a clear and concise picture of the importance of artificial intelligence, and of research in general in new technologies, for competitive enterprises, human well-being and sustainable development. In the programme, filmed at Leonardo’s Torre Fiumara site in Genoa, Leonardo’s Chief Technology and Innovation Officer Franco Ongaro and Alessandro Massa, Manager of the Leonardo Labs, describe the essential role played by AI and the research they conduct at Leonardo.
Artificial Intelligence is an integral part of the Leonardo Group’s products and services. Just think of earth observation, of the immense quantity of satellite images, both optical and radar, that have to be processed to extract precious information on the health of our planet, security, emergency response, and analysis of atmospheric phenomena. It is a sector in which AI really makes a difference. But that’s not all. Leonardo uses Artificial Intelligence applications in physical security solutions for people by employing analytical video flow technologies, images and audio for use in a great variety of contexts, including control of critical infrastructure.
One of the fields of greatest interest is cybernetics, a sector of key importance today, in which Leonardo stands out as an example of Italian excellence. Research in AI includes experimentation with advanced innovative methods based on analysis of images in order to classify malware in files. AI plays a crucial role in handling vast quantities of data, in instantaneous classification of threats and in the ability to correlate information to detect intrusions.
Leonardo is also experimenting with applying artificial intelligence to autonomous flight, which sets very high safety standards typical of the aeronautical industry. Humans will initially continue to take part in operative and decision-making processes, but in the long term, autonomy will increase, and AI will be involved in all activities, from merging data received from sensors to creating uncrewed flight logics. This is an important challenge for Leonardo, and also concerns the ability to certify these technologies because certification is an essential requirement for flying platforms.
Fields of application are further extended when addressing the area of robotics, in which AI is the true backbone. Leonardo Labs are conducting research going in two separate directions. The first is for industrial applications, in which robots guided by AI can collaborate with people on production lines and support remote maintenance operations. The second area of research focuses on robots capable of working in unstructured environments and tasks, such as emergency situations or places where working conditions are acceptable only for robots. In this context, the research extends into the confines of Space, with the study of robotic systems used, for example, on planets and satellites, where instruments are subject to radiation, pronounced temperature excursions and particularly difficult mobility conditions.
The davinci-1 supercomputer supports the research and development that Leonardo is carrying forward in IA. Designed and started up in Genoa in January 2021, the supercomputer represents an important asset for its computing capacity and is particularly massively used in AI to train large-scale neural networks requiring vast quantities of data.
AI technology is therefore essential in many of Leonardo’s application domains to reinforce the company’s existing product portfolio seize new application opportunities in new sectors. To meet the goal of becoming an “AI Intensive Company”, it is necessary to maintain a constant focus on research, experimentation with new technologies, ongoing training of resources and widespread application of these technologies in various sectors of interest.