Technology 3 min read

Andreesen Horowitz $10 Mil Investment Means it's Time to Take SAR Drones Seriously

Dmitry Kalinovsky /

Dmitry Kalinovsky /

Shield AI, an AI drone startup, raised $10.5M in its Series A round, led by venture capital firm Andreesen Horowitz. The funds would allow the startup to develop further its AI systems, which are focused on identifying hostile and non-hostile human targets without at pilot.

A whole ecosystem is taking shape around drones and AI systems, especially those aimed at such critical needs as military reconnaissance and safeguarding human life. Search and rescue drones, or SAR drones, are taking many forms and have already begun to help people in emergency situations.

Andreesen Horowitz invested $10.5 mil USD in Shield AI's SAR drones.Click To Tweet

On that note, several drone startups are emerging, attracting big investors who are willing to shell out millions of dollars and support them from the pre-seed stage and all the way to commercialization.

Shield AI at its Series A Round

The series A round or investment round is the second round of startup development. At this stage, the focus is on the potential scalability of the business and its projected profitability. Shield AI, located in San Diego, had already passed the “seed” round last year, which was led by investment firm Homebrew, also raising $2.05 million USD funding from Bloomberg BETA and Founder Collective.

For its second stage, Shield AI announced it has raised $10.5 Million, led by Andreessen Horowitz, a technology-driven venture firm that invests primarily in emerging and mature startups. Peter Levine, general partner at Andreesen Horowitz, has joined the Shield AI Board of Directors.

AI to Reduce American and civilian Casualties to 0

Shield AI was created in 2015 by Brandon Tseng, currently CEO, together with his brother and co-founder, Ryan Tseng. A war veteran, Brandon was a member of a Navy SEAL team in Afghanistan, and after witnessing the horrors of war first hand, he decided to start the company with a goal of reducing the need for human soldiers.

Aware of the inherent dangers of reconnaissance near the battlefield, Brandon goal is to develop next-gen solutions for collecting intel in the last miles of combat environments. Now, the company is working with the U.S. Department of Defense, Homeland Security, and many other departments and agencies to deliver AI autonomous surveillance systems.

Shield AI will use the funds to accelerate the development of UAVs and AI systems with an aim to cut human casualties for American soldiers as well as civilians in conflict areas.

Later this year, Shield AI’s first product, an autonomous quadrotor, is due to be deployed by SEAL teams overseas. The drone is designed to seek out hostile (and non-hostile) human targets within hidden or restricted areas.

Other SAR Drones

As detailed in this Business Insider article, a firefighter named Garret Bryl used a DJI Inspire 1 to spot a couple in distress during a severe flood in Fort Worth, Texas. Bryl alerted a Search and Rescue team to their position–which they had been searching for almost an hour. Bryl said he spotted it within 45 seconds of looking.

Israeli company Urban Aeronautics is hard at work on the Cormorant, a $14 million USD self-piloted passenger drone that can be used for rescue or transport. In development for over 15 years, this SAR drone will be able to carry up to 1,100 lbs. at well over 100 mph.

We’ve also covered the Ehang 184, a Chinese passenger drone that has been approved for U.S. testing.

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

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