SAN DIEGO (Jan. 27, 2022) – “We’re fired up – this program is centerline with our mission to advance U.S. core values by providing DoD with leading technology. We believe the operational products that will result from this program are fundamental to national security and global stability. This program will lead to operational intelligent swarming capabilities and is also a first step towards the integration of our Hivemind™ autonomy stack on commercial electric Vertical Take-off and Landing aircraft, or eVTOLs. The AI and autonomy engineering for this program is at the cutting edge… it’s a really awesome thing to work on,” said Brandon Tseng, Shield AI cofounder and former Navy SEAL.
Shield AI, the aviation autonomy company using self-driving software to enable collaborative teams of unmanned aircraft to operate in GPS- and RF-denied environments, today announced that it has been awarded the maximum amount through the Air Force’s Strategic Funding Increase (STRATFI) Program, in conjunction with Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), to accelerate the integration of its combat-proven Hivemind™ autonomy software into various military and commercial platforms.
The STRATFI program leverages the capabilities of promising private companies, whose technologies have the potential to make a positive impact for personnel serving in the U.S. Air Force, Space Force, and other branches of the U.S. military. Through a rigorous application process, STRATFI identifies companies that consistently meet Department of Defense (DoD) requirements and are positioned to win multiple programs of record.
“AFWERX is committed to quickly scaling in a way that helps our Airmen, and in this case, Soldiers, field emerging technologies that support key operational capabilities. Finding strong AI companies that can bring that capability to the operator will continue to be a key thrust area,” said Col. Nathan P. Diller, AFWERX Director.
The advancement of Hivemind ™ supports the concept of AI for Small Unit Maneuver (AISUM), as outlined in AFSOC’s “Big 5” innovation initiatives. The AISUM capabilities achieved via this STRATFI effort provide the Air Force and other services the ability to employ teams of highly intelligent Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to operate in highly contested domains.
“The AFWERX STRATFI with Shield AI will advance the autonomous collaboration capabilities of AFSOC’s UAS enabling them to team with Air Commandos in complex environments. Human-machine teaming is a critical capability for AFSOC’s broader transformation for strategic competition,” said Brig. Gen. Justin Hoffman, Director of Strategic Plans, Programs and Requirements for Air Force Special Operations Command.
Additionally, through the STRATFI program, Shield AI will start integration of Hivemind ™ onto a commercial eVTOL aircraft – Beta Technologies’ ALIA, an Air Force Agility Prime platform. Integration will be in simulation to build the foundation for a follow-on full platform integration.
Shield AI’s Hivemind™ is an autonomy and artificial intelligence stack for military and commercial aircraft, designed from the ground up to be multi-role, multi-vehicle. On teams of aircraft, Hivemind™ enables full autonomy and is designed to run fully on the edge in high threat, GPS and communication degraded environments. It uses state-of-the-art path-planning, mapping, state-estimation, and computer vision algorithms, combined with reinforcement learning and simulations, to train unmanned systems to execute a variety of missions – from infantry clearance operations to breaching integrated air defense systems with unmanned aircraft.