AeroVironment's latest acquisition centers on AI, autonomy tech

AeroVironment just completed one large acquisition focused on the unmanned aerial platform and has quickly closed on a second deal to bring in more augmenting technologies like autonomy.

In a release Wednesday, AeroVironment said it has purchased the Intelligent Systems Group of Progeny Systems Corp. that makes computer vision, machine learning and perceptive autonomy technologies and other systems enabled by artificial intelligence. 

The transaction has an initial cost of $30 million in cash to AeroVironment and potentially $6 million more in payments over three years if certain performance targets are met.

ISG was founded in 2006 and makes software that performs automated analysis of still and video imagery from many sources that include satellites, unmanned aircraft and fixed cameras to detect objects or so-called “pattern of life” activity.

"Delivering higher levels of intelligence and autonomy will improve the ability of our solutions to achieve customer mission objectives in permissive and anti-access/area-denied (A2/AD) environments through onboard processing, exploitation and dissemination (PED) without requiring radio communication," AeroVironment CEO Wahid Nawabi said in a release.

Simi Valley, California-headquartered AeroVironment has had a busy past 12 months on the acquisition front through one deal for ground vehicle maker Telerob to enter that market, followed by the purchase of Arcturus UAV to add larger-sized aircraft. The Arcturus UAV deal was announced as done earlier this week, while work to complete the Telerob acquisition is ongoing.

For the ISG division, AeroVironment plans to combine that team with its own advanced solutions division to pursue greater research-and-development revenue in the fields of AI and autonomy.

ISG’s facility in Manassas, Virginia will also be AeroVironment’s main hub for AI Innovation and work with teams across the corporation to integrate new technologies into the product portfolio.

"Our employees have worked well together in the past and we are excited to see how the combined teams’ abilities will allow rapid support and deployment for current and emerging warfighter requirements," Progeny Systems CEO Walt Kitonis added. "Progeny Systems and AeroVironment will continue to support existing programs and together pursue new opportunities in the future.”

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