Shield AI to acquire Australian AI company for AUKUS Pillar II

By Georgina DiNardo / April 4, 2024 at 1:55 PM

Shield AI, a U.S. defense technology company, announced its definitive agreement to acquire Sentient Vision Systems, an Australian artificial intelligence company, citing its focus on Pillar II of the AUKUS security agreement.

Together, the companies will blend their operational knowledge of AI and develop “superior intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities for today’s rapidly changing defense and security environment,” Shield AI said today.

The merger, which is subject to federal regulatory approval, comes amid Defense Department efforts to further AUKUS Pillar II, which focuses on tri-lateral involvement between the U.S., the U.K. and Australia to develop and field advanced defense technologies.

Mark Palmer, Sentient Vision Systems’ CEO, said the new partnership underscores the goals outlined in AUKUS Pillar II.

“What stood out to us about Shield AI is that they are the only company in the world with an operational AI pilot, and therefore have the technological expertise and maturity to really deliver on the AI technology workstream underlined in AUKUS Pillar 2,” Palmer said. “The innovation breakthrough combining our computer vision AI-enabled ViDAR and Shield AI’s Hivemind will increase situational awareness, enabling quicker more effective decision making and help to save lives.”

In October, Shield AI and Sentient announced a multiyear agreement to combine Sentient’s ViDAR, which is an AI system that uses Electro-Optic or Infrared sensors to identify and label targets invisible to a conventional radar, with Shield AI’s Hivemind, which is an AI pilot that does not require remote GPS operators, naming the collaboration the “Sentient Observer.”

“This acquisition unites Sentient’s ViDAR and our Hivemind AI pilot, creating the world’s most advanced AI-piloted ISR sensor package,” said Ryan Tseng, CEO and co-founder of Shield AI. “Considering the imperative of covering vast maritime areas, especially in the Pacific, joining forces with Sentient was a strategic choice given their expertise in optical radar solutions. The integration of WAMI on V-BAT will revolutionize our offering, enabling Group 3-sized aircraft to perform tasks that previously required larger, costlier aircraft, significantly enhancing our customers’ operational capabilities.”

Shield AI plans to fly the “Sentient Observer” this year, as well as roll out the first deliveries.

“The DOD has asked for an all-seeing eye over tens of thousands of square miles, 24/7, without the need for GPS or communication links,” said Brandon Tseng, Shield AI’s president and cofounder. “For Shield AI, Sentient Observer is the final piece of that puzzle. The DOD can begin augmenting and replacing their legacy solutions for a distributed, low cost, low risk solution that doesn’t break the bank if an aircraft is shot down.”