DarwinAI brings explainability platform to aerospace industry through Lockheed Martin partnership


DarwinAI, a Kitchener-Waterloo-based artificial intelligence startup, is partnering with global aerospace company Lockheed Martin to improve Lockheed Martin’s customers’ understanding of AI solutions.

“Negotiating AI’s black box problem in a practical, actionable manner is a key focus for us this year.”

DarwinAI offers an explainability platform that attempts to describe how neural networks, which are complex constructions that mimic the human brain, reach their decisions. Lockheed Martin will use this platform to identify projects across its business where explainability technology can be applied.

“Explainability is a critical challenge in our industry,” said Lee Ritholtz, director and chief architect of applied artificial intelligence at Lockheed Martin. “Understanding how a neural network makes its decisions is important in constructing robust AI solutions that our customers can trust.”

According to a 2019 report from Aéro Montréal, the aerospace sector has many regulatory
and safety concerns that can delay AI adoption. For example, developing an algorithm that can determine whether or not a device is “flightworthy,” requires a high level of explanation to engineers and regulators. The report said explainability is therefore a critical field of research in the aerospace industry.

DarwinAI has created an explainability platform for deep learning development powered by its technology, GenSynth Explain. In addition to optimizing neural networks, the platform aims to dramatically reduce the time it takes to produce strong and accurate models.

This explainability problem is prevalent in but not limited to the aerospace industry. AI is often described as having a “black box problem,” meaning like an airplane’s black box, it is difficult to explain what is going on internally, as the technology continues to advance.

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Founded in 2017, DarwinAI emerged out of stealth with $3.9 million CAD in seed funding in September 2018. The company seeks to combat this black box problem, aiming to create explainable AI that allows enterprises to build AI models they can trust.

The founding team includes CEO Sheldon Fernandez, also a co-founder of software consultancy Infusion, which was acquired by Avanade last year.DarwinAI’s founding team also includes chief scientist Alexander Wong, a professor at the University of Waterloo, and COO Arif Virani, a former McKinsey & Company technology consultant.

“Negotiating AI’s black box problem in a practical, actionable manner is a key focus for us this year,” said Fernandez. “Our collaboration with a leader in the aerospace industry such as Lockheed Martin underscores the importance of trustworthy AI solutions. We look forward to this important collaboration.”

Darwin AI also recently co-developed a neural network for COVID-19 detection via chest radiography with the University of Waterloo’s Vision and Image Processing Lab.

Image source Unsplash. Photo by Pixpoetry.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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