Boeing Introduces BATS, the AI-Powered Drone

Drones as we perceive them toady have been around for more than a decade, and are now used for a wide range of activities, from military and photography to delivery and scaring airports into shutting down.
Boeing animation showing the Airpower Teaming System in action 5 photos
Photo: Boeing
Boeing Airpower Teaming SystemBoeing Airpower Teaming SystemBoeing Airpower Teaming SystemBoeing Airpower Teaming System
Regardless of their shape, size or purpose, drones have up until now been controlled by a human, sitting at some distance and telling it what to do. But that era is quickly coming to a close, as research into artificial intelligence progresses.

Boeing’s Australia division announced on Wednesday the launch of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System, an AI-powered drone capable of flying independently or in support of crewed aircraft.

It is a machine that can be teamed up with a number of existing military aircraft and perform a variety of purposes, from surveillance and reconnaissance to electronic warfare. The drone can quickly switch between roles if it needs to, depending on the situation.

While on a mission, the drone uses its AI, for instance, to maintain the distance between it and the aircraft it accompanies, adjusting it constantly.

“The Boeing Airpower Teaming System will provide a disruptive advantage for allied forces’ manned / unmanned missions,” said in a statement Kristin Robertson, vice president and general manager of Boeing Autonomous Systems.

“With its ability to reconfigure quickly and perform different types of missions in tandem with other aircraft, our newest addition to Boeing’s portfolio will truly be a force multiplier as it protects and projects air power.”

A prototype of the drone was presented by Boeing Australia during the Australian International Airshow this week as Boeing’s largest investment in a UAV outside the United States.

The company did not say how soon BATS could be deployed in the skies above Australia - the first flight is scheduled for 2020 - but it did show animations of the drones flying in sync with a Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 fighter and an E-7 Wedgetail.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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