Anduril’s new drone offers to inject more AI into warfare

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A swarm of Ghost 4s, controlled by a single person on the ground, can perform reconnaissance missions like searching for enemy weapons or soldiers.

Anduril’s Ghost 4 drone can carry systems capable of jamming enemy communications or an infrared laser to direct weapons at a target.

THIS SPRING, A team of small drones, each resembling a small, sensor-laden helicopter, scoured a lush stretch of wilderness near Irvine, California. They spent hours circling the sky, seeking, among other things, surface-to-air missile launchers lurking in the brush.

The missiles they found weren’t enemy ones. They were props for early test flights of a prototype military drone stuffed with artificial intelligence—the latest product from Anduril, a defense-tech startup founded by Palmer Luckey, the creator of Oculus Rift.

The new drone, the Ghost 4, shows the potential for AI in military systems. Luckey says it is the first generation that can perform various reconnaissance missions, including searching an area for enemy hardware or soldiers, under the control of a single person on the ground. The vehicle uses machine learning (the method behind most modern AI) to analyze imagery and identify targets, but it also relies on more conventional rules-based software for critical control and decisionmaking among swarm teammates.

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