There is little detail in the $1 million contract award posted yesterday. The award, from the Army, but through the Pentagon’s brand-new tech-focused “Defense Innovation Unit Experimental” DIUx, is for a nine-month “prototype project in the area of Autonomous Tactical Airborne Drones.” Two other salient features stand out in the little, obligatory blurb attached to the notice. The contract comes from the Naval Special Warfare Command, which mostly oversees Navy SEALs, and the contract was awarded to Shield AI.
What, exactly, will the “Autonomous Tactical Airborne Drones” do? Judging by video from Shield AI, it looks like they’ll fly into unknown airspace, inside of buildings.
Shield AI’s video, published in June, carries a simple description: “Hit launch, autonomous exploration begins, hit return, autonomously flies back to you. No remote control, no pilot… full autonomy.”
The quadcopters, which appear to be modified commercial models with extra sensors attached, are exploring buildings, mapping the insides of spaces, and then transmitting that information back to humans who may soon need to go into that building. That’s useful for fighting in a building, which is a staple task of special warfare units.
Watch the full video below: