In a significant development for artificial intelligence (AI), two prominent companies in the defense sector, Sentient Vision Systems (Sentient) from Australia and Shield AI from the United States, have entered into a long-term partnership to create an advanced aerial surveillance system designed for real-time target detection and tracking.
The agreement, inked on October 23, marks a collaboration between Sentient, which specializes in developing the ViDAR AI system (Visual Detection and Ranging), and Shield AI, renowned for its AI-enabled situational awareness tools for military applications. The innovative system will be integrated into Shield AI’s V-Bat vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) uncrewed aerial system (UAS).
The ViDAR AI system, developed by Sentient, is an advanced optical sensor with the ability to scan large land and sea areas, detecting objects of interest that may be invisible to the human eye or conventional radar. This capability enhances the surveillance system’s effectiveness in identifying and monitoring potential targets.
Additionally, the collaboration leverages Shield AI’s Hivemind, an AI software solution that equips the V-Bat UAS with autonomous navigation capabilities, allowing it to adapt to changing scenarios and complex environments. By combining the ViDAR system with Hivemind, the V-Bat UAS can perform wide-area search missions and respond intelligently to dynamic situations, enhancing its operational efficiency and accuracy.
The partnership is expected to yield tangible results, with deliveries anticipated to commence in the coming year. This agreement builds upon the joint development and integration efforts previously announced by the two companies.
Furthermore, this collaboration aligns with a broader strategic objective under the AUKUS pact, a trilateral security partnership involving Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, with a particular focus on advancing AI technologies for defense and security applications.
Mark Palmer, the CEO of Sentient, said: “The confirmation of our long-term relationship reflects the AI technology workstream that is underlined in the AUKUS Pillar 2. Innovation stemmed from our computer vision AI-enabled ViDAR and Shield AI’s Hivemind will provide commanders with immediate situational awareness and survivability of our warfighters.”
Brandon Tseng, the President and co-founder of Shield AI and a former US Navy SEAL, said: “This multi-year, multi-unit agreement is a major advancement in AI-driven situational awareness. We are proud to partner with Sentient to bring this capability to our customers and allies.”
In a related development, Shield AI had previously showcased its autonomous teaming capabilities in August. They conducted a demonstration involving three V-Bat UAS units powered by Hivemind. The demonstration was part of an AFWERX autonomy initiative under the Strategic Funding Increase (STRATFI) program and in collaboration with the AFRL Sensors Directorate.
The mission involved monitoring and surveilling simulated wildfires through a coordinated team of UAS units. They performed Detect, Identify, Locate, and Report (DILR) missions, demonstrating the technology’s dual-use potential.
The outcome of the demonstration represents a significant step toward achieving the goal of “intelligent, affordable mass” that can operate effectively on the battlefield even in situations where GPS and communication systems are compromised. This level of autonomy can significantly disrupt an adversary’s military assets, enhancing deterrence capabilities.