Oculus founder Palmer Luckey left Facebook in 2017 to found his own defense technology company, Anduril Industries. It’s mostly been in the business of creating AI software, autonomous drones, and threat detection systems, however a Business Insider interview reveals that Anduril is heading back into familiar territory by working on AR/VR software created specifically to aid warfighters on the battlefield.
Brian Schimpf, co-founder and CEO of Anduril, told Business Insider that the company’s software would ideally serve a hypothetical AR/VR headset with the ability to provide soldiers with diagnostics and threat detection, with things on the menu such as alerting its user to gunfire and providing appropriate places to take cover.
Anduril isn’t in the business of making that hypothetical headset however, at least not yet. At the moment, the company is essentially trying to find a way to present available information, gathered from a number of sources, so it’s both intelligible and capable of letting soldiers make correct split-second decisions.
“The real moonshot for us is the idea – you want to have every soldier, every operator, be able to have total awareness of what’s going on,” Schimpf tells Business Insider. “They know everything they need to know to do their job, and all of this is available to them in a millisecond, and just the critical information they need.”
This, Schimpf says, is a “far future” project, although he says the company does have a “couple of very cool things on virtual reality.”
With Anduril’s set of interlinked technologies, you may very well imagine a AR/VR headset ca[able of feeding data to soldiers from the company’s ‘Ghost’ UAS, a drone that fits into a backpack that’s capable of autonomously mapping and surveilling territory, or data from the company’s ‘Sentry Tower’, a device deployed in fixed locations and designed to detect and classify threats—a key piece in the company’s virtual border wall.
Moreover, the headset, should it be deployed to multiple troops in a conflict, could provide a better means of communication, both audio and visual, between forward operators and their base of operations.
Founded shortly after Luckey’s departure from Facebook, Anduril has attracted talent from some of the biggest Silicon Valley players, including Oculus, Palantir, General Atomics, SpaceX, Tesla, and Google—companies that generally shy away from directly developing defense technology. This, Luckey tells CNBC in an interview back in May, is because many of the top tech companies simply won’t due to PR concerns, and both company and shareholder ideology.
Anduril doesn’t have to deal with the issue, as its main goal is provide the US Department of Defense with AI and autonomous technology, of which it currently holds a half-dozen such contracts.
At the time of this writing Anduril has garnered $41 million in investment, valuing the company at $1 billion.