If there is no shortage of money in any sector, then this is the defense sector. Anduril, a drone and intruder detection company, is proving this by raising $1.48 billion. The startup announced this fundraiser on December 2, 2022. It was led by Valor Equity Partners with the participation of Founders Fund, Andreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst, 8VC, Lux Capital, Thrive Capital, DFJ Growth, Elad Gil, Lachy Groom, Human. Capital, Marlinspike, WCM Investment Management, MVP Ventures, Lightspeed Ventures and US Fund for Innovative Technology (USIT).
Drones and AI tools
Anduril says its valuation has doubled from the previous fundraiser announced in June 2021 to $8.48 billion. The startup, co-founded by Oculus co-founder Palmer Lucky, specializes in security products. Palmer Lucky explained in an interview with the Financial Times that he wants to make new technologies based on drones and artificial intelligence models available to the Pentagon. He explains that many startups refuse to do business with the Pentagon and want to have a different opinion about these young shoots with Anduril.
The startup, in particular, designs control towers, stealth drones equipped with cameras and analysis software. Its autonomous surveillance towers use computer vision technology to detect drones and intruders. Information from these towers is centralized in software called Lattice. This software platform can correlate data from various sensors, whether surveillance towers, drones or other equipment, to automatically monitor very large areas of land. This software also allows you to control drones developed by Anduril.
But the startup positions itself as a technology partner, not as a hardware supplier. She explains that she can quickly adapt to technological advances in order to offer new solutions for the army. The focus is on the development of software-defined and hardware capabilities that meet the needs of autonomy in the field. With autonomous systems, the military will be able to act faster and on a larger scale during tactical and strategic operations.
Proof that her solutions are attractive: she won a contract worth almost a billion dollars over 10 years in an anti-drone project with US Special Operations Command, which is attached to the US Department of Defense. Through this fundraising, Anduril plans to invest in its R&D to develop new standalone security solutions while continuing to improve its existing tools. To expand its range of solutions, the startup recently acquired Dive Technologies, which specializes in autonomous underwater vehicles.
Strictly speaking, at the moment the startup is not engaged in the production of weapons, and Palmer Lucky said he would not use facial recognition systems, which he does not consider reliable enough. However, the co-founder opposed a ban on lethal autonomous weapons, saying it would do the United States a disservice against countries that don’t take the same stance. But he called for a framework for the use of these weapons and a clear definition of everyone’s responsibility.
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