Futuristic Alien-Style Drones by Shield AI Secure $500 Million Boost
Alien ship-looking drones developed by California startup Shield AI just got a massive financial boost to the tune of half a billion dollars. The tailsitting vertical takeoff and landing unmanned aerial vehicles, called V-BATs, will be paired with Shield AI’s artificial intelligence Hivemind pilot system.
Shield AI raised the colossal sum through Series F venture capital funding, comprising $100 million in new equity and $200 million in debt financing from Hercules Capital. This comes on top of $200 million already raised back in November.
Series F allows later stage startups to grab big money injections, but in exchange for larger chunks of company ownership. Shield AI was valued at a whopping $2.8 billion even before the new cash influx.
Shield AI’s sci-fi-esque MQ-35A V-BAT drones can take off and land vertically then transition to forward flight. Their unique design provides versatility for diverse military and commercial applications.
But the real secret sauce is the Hivemind AI pilot. It enables unmanned systems to operate fully autonomously, even in risky scenarios, without needing human remote control or GPS navigation.
Hivemind has already proven itself by flying quadcopters, V-BATs and even an F-16 fighter jet. Next year it will pilot Kratos’ XQ-58 Valkyrie combat drone. Shield AI claims more hours autonomously flying fighter maneuvers than any competitor.
Cofounder and CEO Ryan Tseng said AI pilots are becoming a huge strategic asset like aircraft carriers, while only recently being enabled by AI advances. Investors see the national security implications.
Brandon Tseng, Shield AI’s President and former Navy SEAL, said Hivemind solves GPS hacking vulnerabilities plaguing drones in Ukraine. It also enables affordable autonomous drone swarms accomplishing missions typically reserved for expensive piloted aircraft.
With the colossal new war chest, Shield AI plans to scale up manufacturing of its V-BAT Teams product – groups of drones autonomously collaborating using Hivemind tech just like human pilots. The future looks bright for these alien-like drones and their robotic pilots.