Shield AI, Boeing Enter Partnership to Explore Strategic Collaboration in Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Capabilities

Defence Industry


Washington: American Defence technology startup Shield AI and contracting giant Boeing announced a new partnership to investigate how to speed up delivering artificial intelligence and autonomous capabilities to war fighters.

`The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding during the Air Force Association Warfare Symposium this week in which Shield AI and Boeing’s experimental Phantom Works division will “explore strategic collaboration in the areas of autonomous capabilities and artificial intelligence on current and future defence programs,” according to a Boeing press release.

Shield AI will provide its Hivemind AI pilot system, which has already flown aircraft and can “enable swarms of drones and aircraft to operate autonomously without GPS, communications or a human pilot in the cockpit,” the release says.

“AI pilots are the most strategic deterrent technology since the introduction of stealth aircraft and have proven successful in flying air-combat scenarios,” Brandon Tseng, president and co-founder of Shield AI, said in a statement. “Integrating Boeing aircraft with our AI pilot would redefine what large aircraft, crewed or uncrewed, could do.”

Steve Nordlund, vice president and general manager of Air Dominance for Boeing Defence, Space & Security, and Brandon Tseng, Shield AI’s Co-Founder and President signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU).

Since its founding in 2015, Shield AI itself has acquired a number of companies focused on artificial intelligence and uncrewed aircraft. In 2021, it bought Heron Systems — the company whose AI defeated a human F-16 pilot in DARPA’s Alpha Dogfight trials — and Martin UAV, which makes the V-Bat drone.

Last year, Shield AI announced it had received an Air Force contract worth up to $60 million for a number of projects involving Hivemind. In February last year, Tseng said as part of the contract, the company will integrate Hivemind into V-Bat. Tseng said at the time that the goal was to have swarms of three to five V-Bat drones ready for operation and production by the end of 2023, increase to 10 V-Bat swarms the next year and then up to 30 in 2025.

Boeing, meanwhile, brings decades of defence production experience, not to mention government relationships, to the partnership, which is part of its broader push — along with its competitors — into next-generation autonomous platforms.

“Boeing continues to leverage talent from across the enterprise to make great strides in autonomous capabilities and programs in recent years,” Steve Nordlund, vice president and general manager for Boeing’s Air Dominance organization, said in a release.