General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has secured a US Air Force contract to demonstrate artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology in a MQ-9 Reaper UAV.

The work will see the Air Force Research Lab’s Agile Condor capability integrated into an MQ-9 over a 10-month period, followed by a flight demonstration phase, says the company.

“The ability to autonomously fuse and interpret sensor data to determine targets of interest is at the forefront of unmanned systems technology,” says David R. Alexander, president, GA-ASI.

“The Agile Condor project will further enhance RPA effectiveness by specifically allowing a MQ-9 to surveil a large area of operations, autonomously identify pre-defined targets of interest and transmit their locations.”

The flight demonstrations will help determine “the optimum artificial intelligence and machine learning methodologies to find, identify and track select targets.”

A key benefit of the technology, says GA-ASI, could be reducing satellite bandwidth requirements through the on-board identification, classification, and nomination of targets. This would allow only targets of interest to be transmitted via satellite or other data links.