Shield AI's V-BAT drone gets major sensor upgrade from Sentient

Shield AI and Sentient Vision Systems have announced their intention to team up to provide the former's V-BAT drone with wide-area motion sensing.
Christopher McFadden
Shield AI's V-BAT is about to get alot cooler.

Shield AI 

American defense technology company Shield AI has teamed up with Australia-based Sentient Vision Systems to develop an artificial intelligence (AI) powered wide-area-search imagery system for drones. The duo will supply the system to the American Department of Defense (DoD), Australian Defense Forces (ADF), and other international customers.

Intelligent tail-sitting UAV

The companies will jointly develop and integrate a ViDAR-enabled, wide-area-search capability onto Shield AI’s V-BAT tail-sitting unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), enabling Shield AI’s V-BAT to intelligently classify, track, read, and react to targets in dynamic missions. Shield AI plans to fly the capability on V-BAT next year. The V-BAT is currently employed to "[secure] borders, [hunt] drugs, [and] find threats. Shield AI’s V-BAT is the future of next-generation UAS. The most tactical, most logistically simple UAS in the world. There’s nothing else like it," explains Shield AI.

"V-BAT supports a wide range of interchangeable and customizable payloads and sensors including, but not limited to, EO/MWIR cameras, AIS, and Land/Maritime Wide Area Search (WAS) AI-based capabilities," they add. V-BAT is built to operate in many hostile environments, can be transported in a truck bed, and can be assembled quickly by two personnel, making it an ideal expeditionary system. V-BAT was also chosen by the US Army to replace the aging RQ-7B "Shadow" tactical drone, which has been in service since 2001.

"This work with our Australian partner, Sentient, is a unique opportunity to fuse the innovation prowess of two companies from allied countries on opposite sides of the world. Together, we are shaping the future of defense technology,” said Brandon Tseng, Shield AI’s President, Co-founder, and former US Navy SEAL.

ViDAR is Sentient's AI system that uses an Electro-Optic or Infrared (EO/IR) sensor to detect and classify targets in the imagery stream. It can identify targets invisible to the human eye or conventional radar. The enhanced capabilities of V-BAT significantly bolster threat deterrence, reinforcing international peace and security.

“Sentient is excited and proud to be working with Shield AI on this truly breakthrough solution,” said Mark Palmer, Sentient’s Chief Technology Officer. “We look forward to combining the AI expertise and operational understanding of our two great teams to deliver superior ISR capabilities for today’s rapidly changing defense and security environment," he added.

About the companies

Shield AI, founded in 2015, is a defense technology company that uses intelligent systems to protect service members and civilians. Their AI pilot, "Hivemind," has flown various aircraft, like the F-16 "Fighting Falcon," they have offices in San Diego, Dallas, Washington DC, and abroad.

Sentient Vision Systems specializes in modular optical sensors for motion imagery. Their AI-enabled edge solutions detect and identify small objects on land and at sea. With over 20 years of experience, Sentient has deployed systems worldwide in Intelligence, Surveillance, Search, and Rescue.

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