General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has received a smart sensor contract worth $93.3m from the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC).

Under the contract, the company will work on boosting the autonomous sensing capabilities of unmanned aircraft.

The project aims to advance artificial intelligence (AI) technology with the showcase of object recognition algorithms with an unmanned aircraft.

Additionally, it will use on-board AI to operate the sensors of the aircraft and direct autonomous flight.

GA-ASI Strategic Development vice-president JR Reid said: “GA-ASI is excited to leverage the considerable investment we have made to advance the JAIC’s autonomous sensing objective.

“This will bring a tremendous increase in unmanned systems capabilities for applications across the full range of military operations.”

The company plans to use the technology on the MQ-9 Reaper Remotely Piloted Aircraft, which features different sensors, such as GA-ASI’s Reaper Defense Electronic Support System (RDESS) and Lynx Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR).

The MQ-9 will be commanded using the GA-ASI’s Metis product.

Metis is a capability that has been developed to optimise collection management and intelligence sharing.

It allows its user to instantly communicate Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) requirements and receive actionable intelligence notification automatically.

Earlier this month, the US State Department approved a possible foreign military sale (FMS) of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters (JSF), MQ-9B RPA as well as munitions, sustainment and support to the UAE.

In 2017, GA-ASI’s MQ-9B SkyGuardian RPA successfully completed a flight through various classes of non-restricted airspace, marking a significant step towards certification.