Andresson Horowitz Invests $10.5 Million in Drone Firm Shield AI
Shield AI, a San Diego based startup that develops technology to save lives with artificially intelligent systems, has raised $10.5M in a Series A round led by Andreesen Horowitz. The funding will be used to accelerate the development and deployment of artificially intelligent products that will protect service members and innocent civilians on the battlefield.
Peter Levine, general partner at Andreesen Horowitz, has been appointed to Shield’s Board of Directors. Other major venture investors in Shield AI include Homebrew, Bloomberg Beta, and Founder Collective.
Shield is building an artificially intelligent drone that locates people and potential threats within buildings without a remote pilot. Co-founder Brandon Tseng says that “When deployed, Shield AI drones will be the first example of service members using artificial intelligence on the battlefield to gather real-time information that saves lives and will provide immediate protection to US ground forces and innocent civilians caught in conflict.”
The company grew out of Tseng’s experiences serving in combat in Afghanistan. Tseng says “sometimes tragic things happen when good information is lacking on the battlefield.” Tseng teamed up with his older brother Ryan (CEO) and Andrew Reiter (CTO) in July 2015 to found Shield. “When Brandon shared his stories of loss, and inspiring vision of artificially intelligent machines that would save lives, Andrew and I left our jobs to join Brandon and start Shield,” Ryan says.
Shield AI currently has contracts with the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. Tseng says the AI-enabled drones are “a tactical asset with strategic impact” and that artificial intelligence “will positively transform the battlefield by providing critical insights that remove the fog of war, which will enable service members to make life-saving decisions.”
Here are a couple of demonstration videos courtesy of Shield AI.
This video demonstrates “launch and toss” functionality. THe user hits “launch” and autonomous exploration begins; he hits return, and the drone autonomously flies back to him. There is no remote control or pilot.The drone is flying with full autonomy.
Here is another more elaborate demo complete with throbbing sound track.
Frank Schroth is editor in chief of DroneLife, the authoritative source for news and analysis on the drone industry: it’s people, products, trends, and events.