Defence artificial intelligence and unmanned aerial system (UAS) developer, Anduril, has launched a new vertical take-off landing (VTOL) small-UAS (sUAS) that builds on previous systems in use with US Department of Defense (DoD) and UK Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Ghost 4 is designed and manufactured in the US to meet the needs of military customers and is capable of real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) that can be fed into the creation of a common operating picture.

The sUAS can fly for over 100 minutes carrying a full mission payload and operates on the company’s Lattice AI software platform that acts as a software backbone for operations. Anduril says that the sUAS also features a ‘near-silent acoustic signature.

In a blog post, Anduril founder Palmer Luckey described the Ghost sUAS as the ‘the best drone there is’ adding that shipments of the Ghost 4 were due to start in Q1 2021.

Although the company did not confirm any customers, Luckey’s blog post implies that customers for the drone will include the US military and the UK Royal Marines Future Commando Force which has trialled earlier versions of the UAS.

Luckey wrote: “I can’t wait to get the latest version into the skies with US warfighters and their allies across the globe – orders start right now, shipments start in Q1 2021.

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“I owe a huge thank you to the partners who have helped us go from janky prototype to production, especially the Future Commando Force.”

The Ghost UAS is capable of fully autonomous flight and utilises the Lattice platform to ensure that minimal training is needed for personnel to operate the system. Anduril said that if the UAS detects it is low on battery, it can automatically cue another UAS to continue the assigned mission without human intervention.

Anduril adds that the UAS is designed with swarm and teaming capabilities allowing a single operator to task ‘large teams of autonomous Ghosts from a single ground control station’.

Anduril said: “Groups of Ghosts collaborate to achieve mission objectives that are impossible to achieve via a single unit. Additionally, Ghosts communicate status data with one another and can collaborate to conduct a “battlefield handover” to maintain persistence target coverage.”

The company added that Ghost can be flown remotely from anywhere in the world using either ‘local, secure, closed-loop networks’ or ‘for distributed operations, on encrypted backhauled networks’.

Image: Anduril Industries.