Shield AI: Artificially Intelligent Systems That Save Lives

April 5, 2017

The talk of AI and robots is frequently colored with warnings about the danger those technologies may represent. But those very same technologies have the power to do incredible good if developed carefully and utilized thoughtfully. That is the belief that drove our investment in Shield AI. We’re both proud and excited to finally announce our initial seed and follow-on investments in Shield’s $10.5 million Series A financing led by Andreessen Horowitz.

WHO: Brandon Tseng, co-founder, was a member of a Navy Seal team in Afghanistan. He saw firsthand that the lack of information, and the dangers inherent in trying to collect it, sometimes led to tragic events on the battlefield. When he returned from his tour, he got together with his brother, Brandon Tseng, co-founder and CEO, and Andrew Reiter, co-founder and CTO, to build Shield AI. Brandon, an electrical engineer by background, had previously started and sold a company to Qualcomm. Andrew had spent many years at Draper Laboratory working on navigation systems for autonomous vehicles. Together, they form a team that combines business and technical acumen with a singular focus on applying those skills within the public sector.

WHAT: Shield AI builds artificially intelligent systems, starting with fully autonomous quadcopters, that collect data in highly dangerous environments and protect military personnel and civilians. Those systems are designed for use within the public sector with the express purpose of saving lives. The company currently has contracts with the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, with applications for state and local agencies, including police, fire and forestry departments in Shield’s future.

HOW: Shield is representative of the investing we’ve been doing, for over two years now, in the areas of machine learning, AI and hardware/robotics. The application of those technologies enables the autonomy, indoor navigation and real-time data collection that are central to Shield’s products. And not surprisingly, the team that Shield has been assembled is one the finest collections of technologists and computer scientists in the field of AI-driven systems.

WHY: The team at Shield believes that massively reducing American and civilians casualties in ground combat is both necessary and achievable. And that is why they are building Shield. Brandon’s Navy Seal comrades are the inspiration for this mission. They and all the other people who put themselves in harm’s way deserve technology that can help reduce the risk that they face every day. The largest suppliers to public sector are decades-old companies started in the dawn of aerospace. We believe there’s room for one to be built from a core of autonomous robotics, AI and computer vision.

If the Shield’s mission resonates with you, check out the company’s job openings in San Diego.