Shield AI, a defence technology company building an AI pilot, has successfully completed an autonomous teaming demonstration featuring three V-BAT Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).

This demonstration was the final milestone of an AFWERX autonomy programme, an arm of the United States Air Force program that fosters a culture of innovation.

Shield AI showcased its Hivemind AI pilot by launching a team of three V-BATs to monitor and surveil simulated wildfires.

The coordinated team conducted Detect, Identify, Locate, and Report (DILR) missions and it is hoped that V-BAT teaming capabilities will be used in GPS- and- communications-denied environments in the next year.

Shield AI showcase

“Intelligent, affordable mass that can see everything on the battlefield, execute the mission even when GPS and comms are denied or degraded, and put all our adversaries’ military assets at risk at all times is the holy grail of deterrence. This milestone brings us closer to achieving that reality,” said Brandon Tseng, Shield AI’s president, co-founder and former US Navy SEAL.

“We had many customers from across the DoD enterprise attend the event and my favorite customer quote was ‘Wait, you’re flying those three aircraft, doing the recon, and at the same time briefing us?!’ The customers genuinely appreciated that this isn’t merely talk, or just computer simulations, or a science project leading nowhere. This represents real autonomy on actual aircraft that, most importantly, will be deployed imminently.”

Hivemind can be trained for a variety of missions and its modular open systems architecture enables portability to other aircraft.

It has flown quadcopters, V-BATs, and jet aircraft. Hivemind can be trained to undertake a broad range of missions, including integrated air defence breach, SCUD missile hunting, zone reconnaissance, counter-air, beyond-visual-range strike, maritime domain awareness, and communications-contested operations.

Autonomy efforts on uncrewed jet aircraft

“Autonomy on V-BAT directly supports our autonomy efforts on uncrewed jet aircraft. Beyond our autonomy stack being leveraged across different aircraft, what sets this autonomy effort apart from others is that it was deployed on a program-of-record aircraft and will be a fielded capability next year. Many DoD-funded efforts, unfortunately, never reach the hands of a warfighter. However, Shield AI and AFWERX decided from the start that we would field this capability within the DoD. The great thing is all our DoD customers — the Army, the Navy, the Marines, SOCOM, and the Air Force — will benefit from this AFWERX effort. Autonomy is a joint capability,” said Ryan Tseng, CEO and co-founder of Shield AI.
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