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London Tech Week

Shield AI lands $200M at $2.7B valuation to scale AI pilot for aircraft and drones

Shield AI team
Picture credits: Shield AI

US-headquartered Shield AI defense technology company building the world’s best AI pilot for aircraft, has secured $200 million in Series F funding. This follows the $90M in equity and $75M in debt that was raised as a part of its Series E round back in 2022. 

The oversubscribed round was led by U.S. Innovative Technology Fund (USIT) and Riot Ventures, with participation from Cathie Wood’s ARK Invest and returning investors Disruptive and Snowpoint. This round takes the valuation of Shield AI to $2.7 billion.

Shield AI will use the investment to scale its autonomous flying systems for the US military and its allies. It will also deploy the funds to accelerate tech integration with third-party uncrewed platforms.

Integrates AI pilot with aircraft

Founded by Andrew Reiter, Brandon Tseng, and Ryan Tseng in 2015 in San Diego, Shield AI builds an AI pilot called Hivemind, which enables teams of intelligent aircraft to operate autonomously in high-threat environments on the edge, without the need for remote operators, command inputs, or GPS.

Also, Shield AI is working to integrate Hivemind into uncrewed fighter jets and other aircraft. Hivemind software enables intelligent teams of aircraft to perform missions ranging from room clearance to penetrating air defense systems and dogfighting F-16s.

This technology is similar to that of self-driving cars. Hivemind employs state-of-the-art algorithms for planning, mapping, and state estimation to enable aircraft to execute dynamic flight maneuvers and uses reinforcement learning for the discovery, learning, and execution of winning tactics and strategies. 

The software enables full autonomy and is designed to run fully on the edge, disconnected from the cloud, in high-threat, GPS, and communication-degraded environments. 

Shield AI’s products include small-unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) Nova and its medium-sized vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAS, V-BAT. Hivemind is integrated onboard Nova since 2018 and it will soon be integrated onboard the V-BAT.

“We’re building the world’s best AI pilot to ensure air superiority and deter conflict because we believe the greatest victory requires no war. This funding accelerates the scaling of Shield AI’s products, enabling the deployment of intelligent, affordable mass—the most important non-nuclear deterrent for the next 30 years,” said Brandon Tseng, Shield AI’s President, co-founder, and former Navy SEAL.

“The increasing number of military conflicts we have seen over the last 18 months unfortunately paints a sobering view of our future defense technology needs and the important role AI will play,” said Thomas Tull, Chairman of USIT. “Shield AI continues to be a pioneer in this sector, driving much needed innovation by developing state-of-the art AI pilots. We are proud to continue supporting their mission as they leverage these cutting-edge technologies to deter conflict before it begins.”

“Shield’s AI pilot doesn’t require GPS or communications because it’s smart and adaptable to the environment. Their AI is trainable and adaptable to many different missions and has flown teams of quadcopters, V-BATs, and modern fighter jets. The closest tech comparable we’ve seen is what Tesla is doing with their self-driving stack. Their combination of market-leading AI technology and top-tier growth is why we are excited to continue to invest in the Company,” said Stephen Marcus, Co-Founder and General Partner of Riot Ventures.

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