This is what the new US Army drones are like: 3D printed and designed by AI

It was a matter of time until both technologies, 3D printing and artificial intelligence, came together to design drones. And the United States Army has done it through Task Force 99, a division specialized in the design and production of unmanned vehicles based in Qatar.

Created in October 2022 as an experimental unit, the working group has already used some of its new drones in operations in the Middle East and is testing new ways to quickly make cheap drones with artificial intelligence.

“We started getting this task force up and running and we've really been pushing the boundaries with autonomous operations and, frankly, we're at the forefront of the artificial intelligence integration for small unmanned aerial platforms”explains Colonel Jeffrey Digsby, commander of the unit.

Earlier this year, the unit tested a software prototype that designs 3D printed drones with artificial intelligence. The tool “dramatically reduced” the time it takes the unit to design and build a small unmanned craft from weeks and months to “hours and days,” Digsby added.

The AI ​​software is fed by a set of requirements, such as how far the drone should fly and how heavy a load it will carry, and 3D printers build the drone in a day. Although it was not revealed when this system will be in operation for reasons of technology protection, those responsible did point out that all variants are being tested to guarantee the security of the devices.

Last fall, the unit claimed it had nearly 100 unmanned systems “either on order or available” of 13 different models and, when asked about any progress compared to the past, they explained that they can only make public that there are 100 drones. And nothing more. According to the Pentagon, 3D printing will be key to helping quickly build drones.