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Shield AI Awarded Defense Department Contract for AI Software

Company awarded $7.2M Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to enable development of AI capabilities for US Army Aviation Units

San Diego, CA, Sept. 23, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Shield AI, the AI software company focused on operationalizing AI for maneuver by enabling systems that operate on the edge in denied environments, today announced that it has been awarded a $7.2M Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract by the United States Air Force through the AFWERX innovation program. The Phase II contract will allow Shield AI to partner with the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Strategic Capabilities Office to deliver artificial intelligence capabilities to reduce the risk and increase the effectiveness and lethality of US Army aviation units operating in contested and GPS-denied environments.

“Shield AI is deeply grateful to SBIR for recognizing the technical merit of our AI capabilities through its highly rigorous award selection process.  This contract will enable Shield AI to add to its already strong partnerships with forward-deployed military units” said Ryan Tseng, Shield AI’s co-founder and CEO. 

The contract consists of a work plan to apply reinforcement learning (RL) to the development and advancement of fully autonomous behaviors for teams of fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), enabling those platforms to team with human warfighters to gain, maintain, and extend access to highly contested and complex environments through persistent airborne ISR. This effort will initially focus on reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA) mission profiles in GPS-denied environments and will scale in complexity to support a variety of DoD operational concepts. The development of the RL architecture and application to UAVs will dramatically improve the velocity of AI algorithm development, which will, in turn, accelerate the maturation schedule of intelligent fixed-wing platforms from simulation to operationalized platforms.

Shield AI was recently recognized by Fast Company as one of the “World’s Most Innovative Companies” for 2020 and by Forbes as one of “America’s Most Promising Artificial Intelligence companies.” Two of Shield AI’s co-founders were also recently named by WIRED amongst 25 global leaders, including those from Apple and SpaceX, in using technology to provide a strong societal benefit. 

Shield AI is a venture capital-backed firm backed by top-tier investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Breyer Capital, Homebrew, and Silicon Valley Bank.


About Shield AI
Shield AI was founded in 2015 by Brandon Tseng, a former Navy SEAL, Ryan Tseng, a successful tech entrepreneur, and autonomy expert Andrew Reiter.  Today the team is more than 150-strong, with Chief Technology Officer Prof. Nathan Michael of Carnegie Mellon University’s Resilient Intelligent Systems Lab leading the company’s development of AI systems that operate on the edge in challenging, previously unknown, real-world environments.

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