Shield AI acquires Alexandria-based defense contractor
Companies creating AI pilots for military aircraft
Alexandria-based defense contractor Heron Systems Inc. was acquired by San Diego-based technology company Shield AI, according to announcement Thursday from Shield AI.
Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.
The companies will work on the deployment of artificial intelligent pilots for military aircraft. Shield AI is applying self-driving car technologies to military aircraft, according to the news release. In 2020, Heron’s AI-pilot defeated a U.S. Air Force F-16 pilot during the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s AlphaDogfight trials, a three-day competition designed to demonstrate algorithms capable of performing simulated, within-visual-range air combat maneuvering, according to DARPA.
“Truly special AI companies are incredibly rare assets in the defense market. Heron has developed the most advanced AI-pilot for fighter aircraft in the United States,” Shield AI cofounder and CEO Ryan Tseng said in a statement.
Heron Systems will operate as a wholly owned division of Shield AI.
“What stood out about Shield AI for us is that they’re really the only ones who have an operational AI pilot that can operate on the edge without GPS or comms, and this has been proven on combat operations,” said Heron Systems Vice President Brett Darcey.
Shield AI was founded in 2015 by Ryan Tseng, Andrew Reiter and former U.S. Navy SEAL Brandon Tseng. The company has more than 150 employees.