Sweden’s largest defence supplier Saab has acquired Bluebear, a British artificial intelligence (AI) enabled autonomous swarm system manufacturer.
Bluebear will contribute to Saab’s existing activities worldwide and Saab will benefit from Bluebear’s expertise in autonomy and swarming, as well as command and control systems.
The Bedford-based asset accounts for 65 employees with a turnover of £8m ($10.01m) last year.
Saab is keen to exploit disruptive technologies such as AI; which will be worth $52bn in 2024, up from $28bn in 2019, the data consultancy GlobalData estimates. The Swedish buyer claims the move was made to secure its presence in disruptive, global markets including Australia, Germany, the UK and US.
Saab’s ambitions in AI and emerging technology markets
Notably, since 2021 the UK and US have agreed to assist Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines and further exchange emerging and disruptive technologies including AI under the trilateral AUKUS pact.
Recently, Bluebear participated in the first AUKUS AI and autonomy trial, organised by the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) in June this year. The event saw the inaugural joint deployment of Australian, UK and US AI-enabled assets in a collaborative system to detect and track military targets in a representative environment in real time.
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Accelerating the development of these technologies will have a significant impact on coalition military capability. The trial achieved several world firsts: including the live retraining of models in flight and the interchange of AI models between AUKUS nations.
The AUKUS nations are looking to rapidly drive these technologies into military capabilities. By leveraging Bluebear, Saab will have the increased capabilities to enter these attractive deep tech markets for global customers.
Discussing Saab’s growing global presence in these technology markets, the Group Managing Director of Saab UK Dean Rosenfield commented: “Saab is on a rapid growth journey, and this is a pivotal moment for both Saab in the UK and BlueBear. We look forward to bringing together our collective expertise and collaborating on leading edge capabilities for our customers.”
Within Saab, BlueBear will serve as a centre for Rapid Concept Development providing expertise and scaling-up innovation across the Saab portfolio.
“For BlueBear this is an important step in our journey as we now move forward as part of Saab. We see many enhanced opportunities around naval, air and land autonomy, payload integration, next generation command and control, AI-enabled defence clouds as well as next generation platforms,” said Dr Yoge Patel, CEO of BlueBear.
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