Drone developer Shield AI has completed an autonomous swarming demonstration of three V-BAT vertical take-off and landing unmanned aerial systems for the US military.
The activity serves as the final milestone in the maturation of an autonomy project led by AFWERX in partnership with the US Air Force Research Laboratory’s Sensors Directorate.
During the test, Shield AI deployed its Hivemind AI pilot to launch the fleet for monitoring and surveillance over simulated wildfire scenarios.
The drone swarm successfully coordinated Detect, Identify, Locate, and Report or DILR missions, proving the autonomous teaming ready for fielding in communications and GPS-denied environments next year.
“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,” Shield AI President Brandon Tseng said.
“This milestone brings us closer to achieving that reality.”
Shield AI CEO Ryan Tseng added that Shield AI and AFWERX from the start decided to deploy this capability within the Department of Defense.
“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,” he said.
Hivemind and Future Integration With Larger Platforms
Hivemind is trainable for missions such as missile hunting, beyond-visual-range strikes, zone reconnaissance, integrated air defense breach, and maritime domain awareness.
Apart from autonomous maneuvers, it was developed to lessen human-related accidents on special missions, including room clearance, enemy air defense neutralization, and F-16 interceptions.
Furthermore, the AI pilot features modular open systems architecture to enable portability with other drones.
“What’s exciting to us is not just the capability that teaming V-BATs can bring to the table or how it’s on a great path for fielding with DoD partners, but how autonomy stacks can be leveraged across different aircraft and programs.” AFWERX Prime Division Chief Col. Tom Meagher stated.
“The continual application of autonomy from small systems, now V-BAT, and onto larger platforms provides paths for industry progression and autonomy maturation.”