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Dual-Use Tech Roundup - Aerospace, Artificial Intelligence, Data Security & Patents
4 April 2022 - Featuring Slingshot Aerospace, Ursa Space, Synthetaic, Antimatter & Raytheon
Slingshot Aerospace has created a situational intelligence platform that provides insights for their customers from data collected through satellites and ground sensors. The company has two products so far: the Beacon and the Laboratory. The Slingshot Beacon is a collision avoidance and communication platform and the Slingshot Laboratory is an immersive program to teach the basics of astrodynamics and space domain awareness. The company raised $25 M of Series A1 funding on March 10th, 2022. The deal was led by ATX Venture Partners and included participation from Lockheed Martin Ventures, Draper Associates, Techstars, and several others. The funds will be used to grow the team and expand into other verticals outside of aerospace and defense.
Ursa Space provides geospatial data and analytics services to their customers to help them make better informed decisions. The company raised $16.15 M in Series C funding on March 17th, 2022. Dorilton Ventures led the round and Paladin Capital, RRE Ventures, and Razor’s Edge also participated. The company plans to use the funding to meet the increasing customer demand for analysis ready satellite data.
Artificial intelligence has become widely adopted in a variety of industries and verticals. Synthetaic leverages synthetic data which allows analysts to build AI models for video and imagery which aids in rapid detection. The company raised $13 M in Series A funding on March 15, 2022 in a round led by Lupa Systems. Booz Allen Hamilton, a large government IT consulting firm, also participated in the round alongside TitleTown Tech, BetaWorks, and others.
Antimatter has built a cryptographic infrastructure for B2B SaaS companies that guarantees the security of their customers' data. The company emerged from stealth mode when they raised a $12 M Series A round of funding on March 31, 2022. The round was led by New Enterprise Associates and UNION Lab Ventures, General Catalyst, and other undisclosed investors also participated. The company plans to use the funds to hire a more robust engineering team.
In this filing, Raytheon revealed that they’re exploring using VR to train people on man portable air defense systems (‘MANPADS’). These are portable surface-to-air missiles that can be used to shoot at low flying aircraft. If you’ve been following the conversations around the West arming Ukrainian fighters, you may have heard about the ‘Javelin’, which is a surface-to-air missile that has been helping secure the airspace.
In theory, training people on these weapons in VR is useful. It could give people the familiarity and muscle memory of using these weapons before they arrive in a live battle environment.
However, there are few training issues with these weapons in VR. First, the weapons tend to be held on a person’s shoulder. However, the bulkiness of the VR headset can make it difficult for a user to get the correct head position. In addition, when wearing a VR headset, it can be difficult to actually “see” the missile correctly, while simultaneously being in the immersive virtual environment.
Raytheon’s solution is to first give a user instant feedback when they’re holding the device correctly on their shoulder. This would be done by looking at the position of a person’s head relative to the training MANPADS device. Once the correct position is reached, the view in the VR headset will snap to an “aim down sights” position, where a user can then begin to aim the weapon at virtual targets.
This filing is interesting for a number of reasons. First, it’s a reminder of the military training applications of VR. Also, this kind of immersive training that blends virtual environments with physical props, is a blurring of military and gaming applications. In the near-future, the best gamers will be the deadliest soldiers. Gaming will be a funnel for military recruitment.
What We’re Reading:
National security-focused VC firm raises $125 million - Axios Pro Rata