Shield AI Selected by NAVAIR PMA-281 to Integrate Hivemind AI Pilot onto eighth aircraft: the Kratos BQM-177A

San Diego, March 12, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Shield AI, the defense technology company building the world’s best AI pilot, today announced it has been selected by NAVAIR PMA-281 to integrate its AI Pilot onto the Kratos BQM-177A to enable advanced AI-based autonomy.

Shield AI will work closely with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), Kratos, to contribute to the U.S. Navy’s objective of increasing capabilities to provide fleet protection by utilizing AI-powered crewed-uncrewed teaming (CU-T) capabilities. 

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“This will be the eighth different type of aircraft integration we’ve done; it will be the fourth jet aircraft. We are getting faster and faster at integrating our AI pilot onto other aircraft because we deliberately architected our AI pilot product and associated software infrastructure as an open, modular platform play that can be systematically reused across DoD hardware. The last integration we did was about 165 days from contract award to first AI-piloted flights, and so we’re hoping to top that. I’m also excited to see what our AI pilot will do with the Kratos BQM-177 — an amazing aircraft capable of flying .95 Mach and as low as 6.6 feet above the ocean. Kratos has been a terrific partner in rolling out our AI pilot onto jet aircraft,” said Brandon Tseng, Shield AI’s President/Cofounder, a mechanical engineer, and a former U.S. Navy SEAL.

Shield AI’s innovative technical approach for the Navy contract employs an AI architecture that starts with foundational autonomy behaviors. These core behaviors, essential for both administrative and tactical operations, are enhanced to support advanced, collaborative tactics among multi-agent systems. Utilizing Expert Systems and Reinforcement Learning, this method enables precise, autonomous coordination of multiple sensor-equipped or shooter-equipped uncrewed aircraft, marking a significant advancement in collaborative tactical behaviors for defensive counterair (DCA) operations.

Shield AI’s flagship product, Hivemind, is an AI pilot that enables teams of intelligent aircraft to operate and complete missions autonomously in high-threat environments, without the need for remote operators or GPS. Hivemind is an aircraft-agnostic autonomy stack similar to the self-driving technology found in cars. It has flown on six different aircraft and deployed on hundreds of aircraft. The different aircraft include three quadcopters, the MQ-35A V-BAT, the F-16, and Kratos MQM-178 Firejet. Later this year, it will fly Kratos’ XQ-58 Valkyrie. Shield AI’s work as part of the DARPA ACE Team, where its AI Pilot won the DARPA AlphaDogFight and later flew F-16 completely autonomously, has been named a finalist for the Collier Trophy – an annual award given to the “greatest achievement in aviation and astronautics.”

Photos courtesy US Navy