Shield AI buys Heron Systems

By John Liang / July 22, 2021 at 12:16 PM

San Diego-based, venture capital-backed defense technology company Shield AI announced today it has acquired Heron Systems, a maker of artificial intelligence products.

Shield AI specializes in using a self-driving software known as Hivemind to allow unmanned systems to operate in GPS- and communications-denied environments. The company counts the Air Force and U.S. Special Operations Command among its customers and has worked with contractors including Textron Systems and L3Harris Technologies. It recently opened a new Washington, DC-area office.

Heron Systems is a software company known for defeating an experienced Air Force F-16 pilot 5-0, and five other AI-pilots, during the DARPA AlphaDogfight trials, according to a statement.

"Together, Shield AI and Heron will accelerate the deployment of advanced AI-pilots to legacy and future military aircraft -- an urgent and necessary step toward achieving national security priorities and remaining credible in the face of sophisticated peer countries. This acquisition is being executed as China recently announced the successful development of an AI-pilot for their fighter aircraft that can defeat China's best pilots," the statement reads.

Heron Systems will operate as a wholly owned division under Shield AI. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.