However, Google's involvement in the effort has triggered resistance within company ranks. Many of them have written accounts of their decisions to leave the company, and their stories have been gathered and shared in an internal document, the contents of which multiple sources have described to Gizmodo.
Project Maven helps process aerial drone footage using artificial intelligence (AI) to spy on vehicles and even follow people as they come and go in and out of buildings.
While the technology giant has claimed that the work was "for non-offensive purposes", previous USA government memos make it clear the basis of the project is to "enhance military decision-making". Google had always prided itself on an open culture, where employees are encouraged to speak their minds and challenge authority when necessary. But some employees feel that their leadership no longer as attentive to their concerns, leaving them to face the fallout.
"We are also deeply concerned about the possible integration of Google's data on people's everyday lives with military surveillance data, and its combined application to targeted killing", said the letter.
There's precedent for employee pushback resulting in product changes - in 2015, employees and users successfully challenged Google's ban on sexually explicit content posted to Blogger.
Google's involvement sparked ethical concern and anger among employees, Gizmodo initially reported.
Almost 4,000 Google employees have opposed Project Maven in an internal petition, asking Google to cancel the contract and implement a policy against taking on future military work.
They said: "It's not like Google is the little machine-learning startup that's trying to find clients in different industries". "It just seems like it makes sense for Google and Google's reputation to stay out of that". When we first learned about the petition in April, it had been signed by over 3,100 Google employees. Essentially, the company was using machine-learning algorithms to help military drones. That hasn't happened yet, prompting some employees to suggest Google revise its ethics. The ethical concerns "should have been addressed before we entered this contract", the employee said.
The world of academia has also raised concerns over Google's work with the Pentagon. In addition to the Google-specific internal petition, there is a broader petition focused on IBM, Microsoft, Amazon and Google, built by tech workers who "believe that tech companies should not be in the business of war". "We believe that Google should not be in the business of war", it read. "These are life and death stakes".
Meanwhile, it has been reported that more than 90 academics have this week released an open letter that has called on Google to end its work on Project Maven and to support an global treaty prohibiting autonomous weapons systems.
"At some point, I realised I could not in good faith recommend joining Google, knowing what I knew".
"I tried to remind myself right that Google's decisions are not my decisions".