However, he is not alone in the drone business. A host start-ups are constructing similar technology for the military. Shield AI, founded by a former Navy Seal member, is in San Diego, not far from Enduril. Teal Drones, whose founder emerged from Mr. Thiel’s internship program, is in Salt Lake City.
The Department of Defense is hungry for small drones that will track objects and fly into buildings, combat areas and other dangerous areas with a little help from remote plots. Mike Brown, director of the Defense Innovation Unit, a Pentagon organization, says self-piloting drones will become an important part of fighting and other military activities in the coming years.
“We need to make sure that we have favorable sources to buy,” he said.
Although some start-ups state that their drones have already been used by the military, the technology is still in the early stages of deployment. But it raises concerns that artificial intelligence systems, combined with weapons, may destroy the role of human decision-making in war.
Asked if their drone technology could be used with weapons, some start-ups say it could. This, he argues, will be an essential part of American efforts to maintain military equality with other countries. “Most people understand that it is part of the military,” Mr. Lucky said.
The Shield AI is fashioning autonomous drones for intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance in combat, and states that the US Special Operations Command has already used them in the area (which the Defense Department has confirmed). Such technology, such as enduril, can be used with weapons, said Ryan Tseng, a Shield AI co-founder.
But Skydio, a drone company in Silicon Valley founded by former Google employees, is more cautious. “We are not weaponizing drones,” Chief Executive Officer Adam Bry said. “Weaponization is where you want less automation, not more.”