Boeing has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Shield AI to support a wide range of existing and future defence programmes.

The MoU was signed during the 2023 Air Force Association (AFA) Warfare Symposium held between 6 and 8 March in Aurora, Colorado, US.

The strategic partnership will allow both the companies to explore the possibility of integrating artificial intelligence (AI) technology and autonomous capabilities to meet the requirements of military customers.

The new agreement will be managed by Boeing Phantom Works, the company’s advanced prototyping arm for defence and security segment.

Boeing Air Dominance organisation vice-president and general manager Steve Nordlund said: “Boeing continues to leverage talent from across the enterprise to make great strides in autonomous capabilities and programmes in recent years.

“Collaborating with Shield AI, the leader in AI pilots, will accelerate our ability to deliver these capabilities to warfighters.”

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Shield AI is the developer of an AI pilot, called Hivemind, which is capable of autonomously flying several aircraft and swarms of drones.

The AI pilot, as described by Shield AI, can work without the need of communications, GPS or presence of a human pilot in the aircraft’s cockpit.

Shield AI president and co-founder and US Navy former SEAL Brandon Tseng said: “AI pilots are most strategic deterrent technology since the introduction of stealth aircraft and have proven successful in flying air-combat scenarios.

“Integrating Boeing aircraft with our AI pilot would redefine what large aircraft, crewed or uncrewed, could do. As the world leader in aerospace technology, Boeing has been exceptionally easy to engage with, so we are excited to expand our scope of work to co-develop, productise and bring to market the world’s best AI pilot for large aircraft.”