MQ-9 Reaper drones, the U.S. military’s weapon of choice for targeted assassination besides reconnaissance, are set to become deadlier with the addition of Artificial Intelligence (AI) based smart sensors.

The Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) awarded General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.(GA-ASI) a $93.3 million contract to enhance the autonomous sensing capabilities of the MQ-9 Reaper Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAS). The goal of the JAIC Smart Sensor project is to advance Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology by demonstrating object recognition algorithms using an unmanned aircraft, as well as employing onboard AI to control the aircraft’s sensors and direct autonomous flight.

GA-ASI will deploy the technology on the MQ-9 RPAS configured with multiple sensors, including GA-ASI’s Reaper Defense Electronic Support System (RDESS) and Lynx Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). GA-ASI’s Metis product will be used to command the MQ-9. Metis is an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) tasking and intelligence-sharing application that enables operators to specify effects-based mission objectives and receive automatic notification of actionable intelligence.

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