San Diego-based defense tech startup Shield AI, an autonomous flight technology startup, has secured $300 million in funding to develop its innovative Hivemind platform further, powering the V-Bat drone and advancing the frontier of defense tech under the leadership of CEO Ryan Tseng.
This extension to the Series F round, bringing the total to $500 million, showcases the company’s growing prominence in the autonomous flight software sector.
Shield AI successfully closed the initial $200 million Series F round earlier this year, with Hercules Capital contributing $200 million in venture debt and an additional $100 million in equity funding. This injection propels Shield AI’s valuation to $2.8 billion, marking a $100 million increase from the original Series F closure. The company had previously achieved a $2.3 billion valuation after a Series E raise in December.
Hivemind Autonomous Flight Platform
At the core of Shield AI’s offerings is its autonomous flight platform, Hivemind. Capable of integration into drones and traditional aircraft, this technology operates without human input or GPS access. The groundbreaking feature enables Hivemind-powered aircraft to navigate even in jammed communication environments.
Shield AI’s in-house drone, the V-Bat, designed for vertical takeoff and landing, is powered by Hivemind. The company recently introduced V-Bat Teams, a software product facilitating autonomous mission execution by V-Bat teams, showcasing the platform’s versatility.
Shield AI’s CEO, Ryan Tseng, highlights the strategic importance of AI pilots in the defense sector. The company aims to accelerate technology integration with third-party drones, expand the adoption of the V-Bat Teams platform domestically and internationally, and test its software on the experimental XQ-58 Valkyrie drone next year.
“AI pilots are becoming a strategic conventional deterrent in class with our 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 computing power. That’s a huge paradigm shift for aerospace and defense,” said Ryan Tseng, Shield AI’s co-founder.
Shield AI’s funding success follows the trend in the defense tech sector, with Anduril Industrial Inc. seeking a substantial raise and Helsing GmbH securing €209 million for AI software development in the defense industry.
Shield AI’s latest funding round reinforces its position as a key player in autonomous flight technology. The significant investment will fuel further advancements and expansion in the defense sector, solidifying the company’s commitment to intelligent systems protecting service members and civilians.
“The defense and investment communities are seeing the profound impact AI pilots will have on national security and global stability. AI pilots solve the electronic warfare (GPS- and communications-jamming) problem that’s devastating 10,000 drones per month in the Russia-Ukraine War. They enable the operating concept of intelligent, affordable mass, where swarms of affordable aircraft can accomplish missions normally reserved for expensive, exquisite aircraft,” said Brandon Tseng, Shield AI’s President, Co-founder, and former Navy SEAL.
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