Here’s how Shield AI wants to boost V-Bat’s capability on a contested battlefield

WASHINGTON — Shield AI, which started with a quadcopter capable of flying indoors in GPS-denied environments, now wants to advance its artificial intelligence and autonomy technology by buying a drone company that has caught the attention of the military.

Shield AI’s purchase of Martin UAV, maker of the V-Bat vertical take-off-and-landing unmanned aircraft system, became official Friday. Shield AI, known for its Nova quadcopter, has already worked closely with the Defense Department’s technology hub, the Defense Innovation Unit. The company, which wants to expand its DOD work, said it has raised more than $50 million in venture funding since 2015.

Martin UAV, partnered with Northrop Grumman, is competing against three other teams to build the U.S. Army’s Future Tactical UAS (FTUAS), which will replace its runway-dependent Shadow.

The military services, and particularly the Army, have evaluated Martin UAVs for years. The aircraft first made an appearance in…