Asia Defense

What’s in the New Singapore-Rolls-Royce Artificial Intelligence Partnership?

A closer look at the significance of the new partnership.

What’s in the New Singapore-Rolls-Royce Artificial Intelligence Partnership?
Credit: Catherine Putz

Last week, Singapore officially announced a new artificial intelligence (AI) partnership with Rolls-Royce. While the partnership represented an ongoing process to operationalize previously agreed collaboration between the two parties, it nonetheless spotlighted Singapore’s efforts to forge such cooperative arrangements in the field of AI both at home and abroad.

As I have noted before in these pages, Singapore has been among the more active countries in the Asia-Pacific in engaging with the subject of artificial intelligence, whether it be initiatives within Singapore itself  or partnerships with some of its key partners abroad. As I noted before, a recent case in point of the latter was a new exchange last month by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) and Singapore’s Defense Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) to promote collaboration regarding the use of artificial intelligence (AI), including with respect to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

One of the dimensions of Singapore’s AI’s efforts had been a partnership with Rolls-Royce to improve its air force capabilities. This was typified by a memorandum of understanding inked by both sides to partner on digital service solutions at the Farnborough Air Show in the United Kingdom last July. Per a statement following the MOU’s signing, Singapore’s Defense Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) and the firm Rolls-Royce would focus on the use of data analytics and digital twins to optimize the time and resources spent on engine maintenance, thereby improving the availability and performance of Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) aircraft and potentially transforming engine support and maintenance training.

Last week, this aspect of Singapore’s AI’s efforts was in the headlines again with the official launching of a new digital technology project. Per the DSTA in a statement on July 23, the project constitutes the first collaborative digital technology project to boost efforts in the development and deployment of new technologies to optimize engine maintenance. It will leverage machine vision technology – the use of AT to analyze images and videos – for engine borescope applications where a tool-mounted camera is used to inspect engine parts, with the automation of this process through AI expected to increase efficiency and performance.

Thus far, the exact path for operationalizing this collaboration remains unclear. For now, what has been indicated publicly is that the agreement will see both organizations will jointly develop and test a solution for improving borescope inspection procedures, in the hope that this will lead to innovative technological process further down the line. As this cooperation takes shape, it will be interesting to assess what implications this may have not only for Singapore, but also for other regional countries as well as government-industry partnerships of this ilk further down the line.