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General Atomics to Develop Smart Sensor Technology for MQ9 Reaper Drone

The Smart Sensor project has set out to further develop Artificial Intelligence object recognition algorithms employed by unmanned aerial systems.

The US Department of Defense’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center has awarded a $93.3 million contract to San Diego-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) to enhance the autonomous sensing capabilities of its MQ-9 Reaper combat drone.

The Smart Sensor project has set out to further develop artificial intelligence (AI) object recognition algorithms employed by unmanned aerial systems in addition to the aircraft’s sensors and direct autonomous flight controlled by onboard AI.

The application “enables operators to specify effects-based mission objectives and receive automatic notification of actionable intelligence” and is employed with multiple sensors.

The technology includes GA-ASI’s Reaper Defense Electronic Support System and Lynx® Synthetic Aperture Radar. GA-ASI’s Metis, “an Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) tasking and intelligence-sharing application,” will be used to command the MQ-9 Reaper. 

In a November 24 press release, GA-ASI’s Vice President of Strategic Development J.R. Reid said the sensing technology “will bring a tremendous increase in unmanned systems capabilities for applications across the full range of military operations.”

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