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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Shield AI makes second acquisition for unmanned aerial portfolio

Just a week after announcing its acquisition of a high-level artificial intelligence firm, Shield AI has unveiled a second deal to enhance its unmanned aerial systems capabilities.

Shield AI's purchase of Heron Systems found a company whose AI pilot outperformed a human-piloted F-16.

The latest deal announced Thursday is for Martin UAV, which is best known for building a vertical take-off and landing unmanned aircraft known as V-Bat.

Shield AI is planning to integrate its autonomy software called Hivemind into V-Bat. Hivemind includes capabilities such as path-planning, mapping, and computer vision algorithms. The software also trains unmanned systems for a variety of missions.

Like the Heron deal, Shield AI didn’t disclose the value of the acquisition of Martin UAV. Shield AI is backed by private equity firm Point72 Ventures.

Martin UAV's unmanned system has been deployed with the U.S. Marines and other international customers. In April, Martin UAV said the Navy had picked the company as the winner of its Mi2 Challenge at the Yuma Proving Grounds.

That challenge was designed to accelerate the development of unmanned systems that can operate in austere environments without ancillary support systems.

The V-Bat can fly for 11 hours and carry a 25-pound payload. It also can hoover and “stare” for longer periods of time that its competitors, the company said.

Shield AI’s acquisition strategy is to build a portfolio of unmanned systems that can be centered around its Hivemind AI and autonomy stack.

Martin UAV retained Houlihan Lokey as exclusive financial adviser and Clark Hill PLC as legal adviser in connection with the transaction. Shield AI retained JPMorgan Chase & Co. as exclusive financial adviser and Reed Smith LLP as legal adviser in connection with the transaction.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jul 29, 2021 at 7:46 AM

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