US based unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) manufacturer, AeroVironment Inc., announced that it has acquired Progeny Systems Corporation’s Intelligent Systems Group (ISG), a leader in the development of artificial intelligence-enabled computer vision, machine learning and perceptive autonomy technologies and provider of related services to United States government customers. The acquisition will significantly accelerate AeroVironment’s development of advanced autonomy capabilities for the company’s growing portfolio of intelligent, multi-domain robotic systems, increase customer-funded research and development revenue and broaden its advanced engineering services offering to defense and commercial customers. Under the terms of the transaction, AeroVironment acquired ISG for $30 million in cash and an earnout for Progeny Systems Corporation of up to $6 million over three years, based on the achievement of specific performance targets.
Founded in 2006, ISG performs research and development to create highly innovative machine learning, active perception and autonomy capabilities for Department of Defense and intelligence community customers. ISG’s software performs high-volume, automated analysis of still and video imagery from a broad spectrum of sources, including satellites, unmanned aircraft and fixed cameras, to detect specific objects, perform change detection assessment or discern “pattern of life” activity. With more than $10 million in fiscal year 2020 revenue, ISG is based in Manassas, Virginia and has 40 employees, all of whom are continuing in their current roles. The ISG team will merge with AeroVironment’s MacCready Works Advanced Solutions team to focus on expanding the company’s customer-funded research and development revenue, while also adding critical expertise and capabilities to expand AeroVironment’s artificial intelligence and autonomy portfolio.
“The ISG team is a leader in developing some of the most advanced artificial intelligence technologies and capabilities for United States government customers, including the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Special Operations Command and Air Force,” said Wahid Nawabi, AeroVironment president and chief executive officer. “Acquiring ISG will enhance the intelligence of our growing, multi-domain robotic systems portfolio, increase customer-funded research and development revenue and deepen our relationships with strategically important customers. Delivering higher-levels of intelligence and autonomy will improve the ability of our solutions to achieve customer mission objectives in permissive and anti-access/area-denied (A2/AD) environments through onboard processing, exploitation and dissemination (PED) without requiring radio communication. These capabilities will further differentiate our solutions and help our customers Proceed with Certainty.”
“ISG’s cutting-edge machine learning and computer vision capabilities are extremely complementary and relevant to our unmatched portfolio of unmanned systems. We continue to grow and shape our portfolio to align with the evolving needs of our customers, as evidenced by today’s announcement, by our acquisition of Arcturus UAV and our pending acquisition of Telerob. We believe that our strategy will deliver significant value to our customers and our shareholders. This series of acquisitions, combined with our focused research and development investments and our strong balance sheet, position us very well to deliver capabilities our customers will value, and capitalize on the long-term market opportunities in front of us. We are excited about our future and the significant value creation potential of our business,” Mr. Nawabi added.
"We're very pleased to have our Integrated Systems Group (ISG), a division of Progeny Systems Corporation, join the AeroVironment team" said Walt Kitonis, chief executive officer of Progeny Systems. "The people, skills, and technologies that each company has are extremely complementary and will bring big benefits to the warfighter. Our employees have worked well together in the past and we are excited to see how the combined teams’ abilities will allow rapid support and deployment for current and emerging warfighter requirements. Progeny Systems and AeroVironment will continue to support existing programs and together pursue new opportunities in the future.”
“AeroVironment is a global leader in tactical unmanned systems and a trusted provider of unique, customer-funded research and development services,” said Dr. Timothy Faltemier, managing director of ISG. “Joining AeroVironment provides a unique opportunity to develop cutting-edge computer vision and perceptive autonomy functions specifically tailored to individual robotic platforms and missions. The ISG team will expand AeroVironment’s capabilities in perceptive autonomy with our advanced computer vision technologies and expand the scope of its advanced engineering services, while deepening existing relationships with key U.S. government customers. We are very excited to join the AeroVironment team and contribute our expertise to the realization of its exciting portfolio of intelligent, multi-domain robotic systems.”
The ISG facility in Virginia will now operate as AeroVironment’s new Artificial Intelligence Innovation Center. Within the AeroVironment Artificial Intelligence Innovation Center, the ISG team will collaborate with teams across AeroVironment to integrate cutting-edge technologies into the company’s growing offering and solution roadmap. For example, new artificial intelligence and perceptive autonomy capabilities from ISG will enable AeroVironment’s unmanned systems to identify specific objects autonomously while performing their missions and either proceed with or modify those missions, based on the objects they detect. These new capabilities will increase the effectiveness of AeroVironment’s solutions, reduce the workload of their operators and improve their ability to operate in complex or contested environments, where GPS signals and radio frequency communication may not be reliable or available.