By Nancy Dahlberg
Red 6 is bringing AR and AI to in-air military training and the CEO is a former ‘Top Gun’
When the CEO of Red 6 was considering where to relocate his California-based startup developing innovative augmented reality tech for military training, two Florida markets stood out for him: Miami and Orlando.
To draw top talent, Miami brings the tech momentum, the multiculturalism, creative energy, and its ever-growing concentration of VCs and finance, what Miami Mayor Francis Suarez touts as “the Capital of Capital.’ Orlando already has thriving defense industry and simulation sectors and the cluster of universities, including UCF, that support them. The winner was … Both.
Landing this high-flying startup is a Florida Tech success story. The corporate headquarters will be in Miami and the technology hub will be in Orlando. Fresh off a $30 million fund-raising round, Red 6 plans aggressive hiring in both locations.
“The move will allow Red 6 to build a presence in two great cities within a state that leads the United States in business friendliness, corporate openness, and economic growth,” said Daniel Robinson, co-founder and CEO of Red 6, which also considered Texas. “Red 6 is excited to be one of the many businesses recognizing the benefits and opportunities Florida has to offer.”
Founded in 2018 by Robinson, Glenn Snyder and Nick Bicanic, Red 6 created the Airborne Tactical Augmented Reality System (ATARS). “We are the first and only company to have made augmented reality work outdoors in dynamic environments,” said Robinson, in an interview Sunday. That would be environments like “300 or 400 miles up in the sky upside down, pulling G forces,” said Robinson, a former fighter pilot.
“It’s a significant technical achievement and ushers in a new paradigm in future military training and opportunities for commercial applications as well,” Robinson explained. Red 6 has been partnering with the U.S. Air Force to deploy the AR pilot training platform in the military’s T-38s soon.
The military has a shortage of combat-ready pilots, and Red 6’s solution uses AR and AI to simulate current threats while in the air. Robinson said. He was the first pilot in the world to dogfight an augmented reality adversary, powered by AI, in the California skies recently. “It’s pretty crazy.”
Robinson grew up in the north of England and was a former Royal Air Force Tornado Pilot before he was selected by the U.S. Air Force to learn to fly and then train others on the F-22 Raptor. After business school, he connected with his Red 6 co-founders, engineers in Los Angeles, to develop the tech to improve military training.
Red 6 sees many opportunities for the tech, in other forms of training and in the gaming and entertainment space. “We've ushered in the world's first multiplayer video game played outdoors, in which we interact with digital entities in airplanes in real airplanes,” Robinson said.
Last month, Red 6 raised a $30 million Series A round, led by San Francisco-based Snowpoint Ventures. That followed a $7 million investment in March from Lochheed, bringing its total funding to $40.9 million, according to Crunchbase. That will power aggressive hiring in the Magic City.
Robinson is already in Miami, along with several other members of his top team. An office has been leased in downtown Miami, with water views and close to the MetroMover. The Miami office will house the executive team, operations, strategy and finance. The build out of the tech team, including its software engineers, will be in Orlando, he said. Eventually, Brightline will conveniently connect the two cities.
In total, Red 6 has 40 employees now, but Robinson said the size of the company will likely surpass 100 in the next two years.
“We are thrilled to have Red 6 join our innovation economy and bolster our VR/AR vertical,” said Mayor Suarez. “Red 6 decided to base their headquarters in the City of Miami for some well-known reasons. Our state has the 4th lowest corporate tax rate and no personal income tax, Miami has low operations costs relative to other major markets, a business friendly climate, and a high quality of life. But they principally selected Miami because of our high quality education and talent. We already have some of the best talent in the nation and our academic institutions will continue evolving to meet the demand of the future economy.”
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