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Shield AI Expands Series F to $500M

TECHNOLOGY: Funds to Expand AI Pilots Into Different Aircraft

The funding keeps on flowing into Shield AI’s Series F.

The San Diego-based defense technology company announced Dec. 29 it had raised $200 million in debt and an additional $100 million in equity to add to the $200 million in equity raised in the initial Series F that closed in November, bringing the total raise for the funding round to $500 million.

Ryan Tseng
CEO & Co-founder
Shield AI

The additional funds were provided by Hercules Capital. The initial Series F round was led by the U.S. Innovative Technology Fund (USIT), a private defense-industry investment fund, and co-led by Riot Ventures, with participation from Cathie Wood’s ARK Invest and returning investors Disruptive and Snowpoint.

Shield AI is using the initial Series F funding to accelerate tech integration with third-party uncrewed platforms, and both scale and deploy its V-BAT Teams products domestically and globally. Its V-BAT vertical takeoff and landing drone aircraft is fully deployable by a two-person team that the company says can fit in the back of a pickup truck or a Blackhawk helicopter. The company’s “Batcave” is reportedly capable of producing 1,000 V-BATs a year.

The company’s aircraft are directed by its Hivemind AI Pilot technology that reads and reacts to the battlefield, adapting to a range of missions like integrated air defense breach, so-called SCUD missile hunting, zone reconnaissance, counter-air, beyond-visual-range strike, maritime domain awareness and communications-contested operations, Shield AI says. The company’s “Batcave” is reportedly capable of producing 1,000 V-BATs a year.

Shield AI’s V-BATs are powered by its Hivemind AI pilots that enable teams of intelligent aircraft to operate and complete missions autonomously in high-threat environments, without the need for remote operators or GPS. The technology is capable of adapting to a range of missions like integrated air defense breach, so-called SCUD missile hunting, zone reconnaissance, counter-air, beyond-visual-range strike, maritime domain awareness and communications-contested operations.

Hivemind is an aircraft agnostic autonomy stack similar to the self-driving technology found in care – like those made by Tesla. Hivemind has flown quadcopters, the MQ-35A V-BAT, and the F-16. Next year it will fly Kratos’ XQ-58 Valkyrie.

The company said this latest infusion of funding will accelerate deployment of AI pilots to different classes of aircraft.

‘Profound Impact’

“The defense and investment communities are seeing the profound impact AI pilots will have on national security and global stability,” said  Brandon Tseng, Shield AI’s president, co-founder, and former Navy SEAL.

Brandon Tseng
President & Co-founder
Shield AI

One of the advantages of AI pilots is that they solve the issues of GPS and communications jamming that come with radio-controlled drones.

“And they enable the operating concept of intelligent, affordable mass, where swarms of affordable aircraft can accomplish missions normally reserved for expensive, exquisite aircraft,” Tseng added.

Sheild AI CEO, Co-founder and Brandon Tseng’s brother Ryan Tseng described AI pilots as an emerging “strategic conventional deterrent” in class with aircraft carriers and guided missile submarines.

“But interestingly, it’s the first strategic deterrent that is software-defined and has only recently become possible because of advances in AI and compute power,” he said. “That’s a huge paradigm shift for aerospace and defense.”

Shield AI

FOUNDED: 2015
CEO: Ryan Tseng
HEADQUARTERS: San Diego
BUSINESS: AI pilots for the defense industry
VALUATION: $2.8 billion
EMPLOYEES: 625 with 170 locally
WEBSITE: shield.ai
CONTACT: info@shield.ai
NOTABLE: Shield AI’s Hivemind is an AI-powered pilot that has flown a variety of aircraft and can enable swarms of drones and aircraft to operate autonomously without GPS, communications or a human pilot in the cockpit.

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