AI startup raises funding for autonomous aircraft

August 30, 2021 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
AI startup raises funding for autonomous aircraft
The $210 million Series D round enables investment in state-of-the-art AI capabilities for the autonomous piloting of military aircraft.

Shield AI, a developer of self-driving technologies for aircraft, has 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 the company'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 defense and commercial industries.

"The funding round enables Shield AI to move one step closer to its goal of becoming a 21st century defense 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 maneuvers and utilizes reinforcement learning for discovery, learning, and execution of winning tactics and strategies. On aircraft, Hivemind® enables full autonomy and is designed to run fully on the edge in high threat, GPS and communication degraded environments.

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