Shield AI, a fast-growing defence technology company developing AI and self-driving technologies for aircraft, announced it had raised $210M in equity financing as part of a Series D fundraising round, increasing its valuation past the billion-dollar mark. The management team projects an additional $75M in debt and $15M in equity to be secured in the coming weeks, bringing the total Series D proceeds to $300M.
The round was led by Disruptive, an Austin, TX-based late-stage technology investor headed by Alex Davis, with participation from multiple top tier venture funds, including Point72 Ventures, which led Shield AI’s Series C. The Series D investors join a cadre of distinguished venture capital firms which led prior rounds, including Breyer Capital and Andreessen Horowitz.
The Series D will enable Shield AI and its recently acquired companies, Heron Systems and Martin UAV, to accelerate their plans for growth across the defence and commercial industries.
“The funding round enables Shield AI to move one step closer to its goal of becoming a 21st-century defence prime through a software-first approach, where products derive a strong competitive advantage from an autonomy and artificial intelligence backbone, similar to what you see across the consumer product market, where great hardware is differentiated through great software,” said Shield AI co-founder and CEO Ryan Tseng.
Shield AI’s software is called Hivemind, a self-driving autonomy stack for military and commercial aircraft, designed from the ground up to be multi-role, multi-vehicle. It employs state of the art algorithms for planning, mapping, and state-estimation to enable aircraft to execute dynamic flight manoeuvres. It utilises reinforcement learning for discovery, learning, and execution of winning tactics and strategies. Hivemind enables full autonomy on aircraft and is designed to run entirely on the edge in high threat, GPS and communication degraded environments.
Shield AI’s hardware products include the Nova and V-BAT UAS. Hivemind is integrated onboard the Nova and will be integrated onboard the V-BAT UAS. Shield AI is committed to supporting third party aircraft with autonomy solutions.
“As a member of the faculty at the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute, I have the privilege of engaging with students and faculty who define the state of the art in AI and robotics. I joined Shield AI in the early days because it represented an opportunity to transition leading technologies from the lab to applications for good at a global scale. We are now well-positioned to achieve this objective and, with this investment, we will further scale our AI operations to more rapidly solve pressing problems facing people around the world, and in doing so, move from a model where technologies flowed from academia to one where we now define the possible,” said Nate Michael, Shield AI CTO.
The company is currently working on a programme called Swarm & Team, which is designed to leverage AI for swarms of unmanned systems to operate together in teams. This will alleviate battlefield constraints and unlock unprecedented visibility.