October 7, 2021
Shield AI, which uses self-driving software to enable teams of robots to oeprate in GPS- and RF-denied environments has announced that its Martin UAV division successfully flew its V-BAT unmanned aircraft system (UAS) on numerous missions with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the USS Portland (LPD 27), including a flight where the V-BAT crew demonstrated the aircraft’s Automatic Identification System (AIS) capability by using the system to successfully link sensor to target in less than three minutes from receipt of tasking.
The V-BAT offers an innovative, near-zero footprint vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) and long-endurance UAS. Propelled by a single, ducted, thrust-vectored fan, it takes off and lands in the style of a SpaceX rocket. Its logistics footprint fits into the bed of a pickup truck or inside a Blackhawk helicopter, significantly reducing the total cost of capability, Shield AI said.
“V-Bat enhances operations in both maritime and land-based environments while providing tactical flexibility with substantially decreased logistical requirements,” said Brandon Tseng, co-founder of Shield AI and a former Navy SEAL. “We are excited to continue to partner and explore all the ways we can deploy this game-changing product in the future.”
The V-BAT provides critical reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA) capability for the Navy and Marine Corps in a unique environment where space is at a premium. Aboard USS Portland, the unmanned aircraft was able to perform and prove itself durable in high winds and challenging weather conditions, Shield AI said.
“Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, in particular, are capabilities that allow us to compete strategically against near-peer competitors by supporting efforts in early detection, over-the-horizon operations, and sea denial,” said a spokesperson for the 11th MEU. “There are a variety of ISR platforms we currently employe, but as a service, we are continually advancing our techniques, tactics, and procedures.”
Martin UAV specializes in building wholly unique, unmanned aircraft systems and associated flight control software. The company’s systems are commercially developed to fill critical operational needs in tactical and confined operational environments. Its V-BAT series aircraft is the only single-engine ducted fan VTOL that can launch and recover from a hover, fly up to 11 hours in horizontal flight, and make mid-flight transitions to “hover and stare” at any time throughout a given mission set.
Shield AI recently announced raising $210 million to help Martin UAV and another acquired company, Heron Systems, to accelerate plans for growth across defense and commercial industries. The company’s Hivemind software is a self-driving autonomy stack for military and commercial aircraft that employs algorithms for planning, mapping, and state-estimation to enable aircraft to execute dynamic flight maneuvers. It is designed to run fully on the edge in high-threat, GPS- and communication-degraded environments.
For additional details on Shield AI, visit its website here.