US defence technology contractor Shield AI has signed a definitive agreement to acquire advanced aviation technology company Martin UAV for an undisclosed purchase price.

Martin UAV is the developer of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) uncrewed aircraft ‘V-BAT’.

Shield AI stated that its combat-proven autonomy software ‘Hivemind’ is one of the leading artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomy stacks used across various defence applications.

It uses advanced path-planning, mapping, state-estimation, as well as computer vision algorithms, along with reinforcement learning and simulations, which help in training uncrewed systems to execute different kinds of missions.

These missions range from infantry clearance operations to breaching integrated air defence systems with uncrewed aircraft.

Upon the completion of the acquisition, Shield AI will combine Hivemind into the V-BAT.

Martin UAV’s V-BAT  can be deployed in a wide range of missions, such as force protection, aerial patrol, search and detection of targets, surveillance, and more.

It has long-endurance capabilities and is propelled by a ‘single, ducted, thrust-vectored fan’.

Martin UAV CEO Ruben Martin said: “GPS and communications on the battlefield are no longer assured. A great aircraft without an AI to make intelligent decisions will be side-lined against China, Russia, and an increasing number of adversaries who are fielding electronic warfare and anti-air systems.

“Shield AI is one of the only companies that has operationalised advanced aircraft autonomy on the battlefield.

“Hivemind will make V-BAT the first and only Group 3 UAS built for sustained operations in denied environments.”

In April, the US Navy selected the V-BAT in a competitive bid, naming Martin UAV as the sole winner of the Mi2 Technology Demonstration uncrewed aircraft effort.

Last week, Shield AI acquired software company Heron Systems. This deal is expected to enhance Shield AI’s AI engineering capabilities.