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Textron Systems, Shield AI team up on unmanned project

WASHINGTON — Textron Systems has teamed with artificial intelligence firm Shield AI to work together on “multi-domain autonomy,” the two firms announced Tuesday.

According to a Shield AI spokesman, the collaboration will integrate the company’s software onto Textron’s unmanned systems, with an early focus on U.S. Army modernization priorities. The initial collaboration will focus on sharing exploration data between small unmanned aerial systems developed by Shield AI and unmanned ground vehicles developed by Textron Systems.

This is not the first collaboration with a traditional defense firm for Shield AI, which is one of a number of of tech companies aiming to break into the Pentagon market. The company has worked closely with the Defense Department’s technology hub, the Defense Innovation Unit, and it has raised more than $50 million in venture funding since 2015.

Textron Systems is a subsidiary of Textron, the 38th largest defense company in the world, according to the annual Defense News Top 100 list. Included in its portfolio are a number of unmanned systems, including the Ripsaw ground robotic combat vehicle and the Shadow aerial system.

“Working with U.S. Department of Defense customers since the 1980s to provide reliable, highly capable unmanned systems, we understand how these technologies extend the capabilities of our warfighters, while keeping them at a safe standoff distance,” Textron Systems Senior Vice President Wayne Prender said in a statement. “We are continuously enhancing our autonomous platforms to meet stated and anticipated future requirements for our customers. We look forward to collaborating with Shield AI on this shared priority.”

Added Ryan Tseng, Shield AI co-founder and CEO: “We are excited to innovate together and believe this marks a significant moment on our path to achieving our mission and delivering AI for Maneuver at scale.”

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