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Verizon’s Skyward unexpectedly shuts down


In information that was surprising even to most Skyward staff, the drone firm that was acquired by Verizon is shutting down.

Skyward is an Oregon-based firm that gives a drone software program platform designed to help operational management for drone packages together with the InFlight cellular app, LAANC entry to managed airspace, and Mapping & Modeling powered by Pix4D. The corporate was acquired by telecommunications big Verizon in 2017. Exterior of its software program, it additionally provides a spread of providers together with drone coaching, consulting, and connectivity.

However all of that’s set to return to an finish this summer season. The corporate despatched out an e-mail to prospects saying the top of its providers for drone pilots. Clients could have help for his or her flight operations by June 30, 2022.

Right here’s a snippet of the e-mail that was despatched out to Skyward prospects:

Hi there valued buyer,

We’re saying right this moment that Skyward, A Verizon firm, shall be ending operations within the coming weeks.

This isn’t a simple choice. The Verizon Robotics workforce shall be focusing our efforts on floor robotic administration, connectivity providers, and options growth.

We apologize for the inconvenience that this can trigger you.

We search to provide the smoothest potential transition off Skyward with out considerably impacting your flight operations. In compliance with our phrases of service, we are going to proceed to help the Skyward Drone Administration Platform by June 30 2022, at which level customers will now not have entry.

Relaxation assured that Verizon is dedicated to information safety and privateness. All buyer information in Verizon techniques shall be dealt with in accordance with Verizon’s information privateness and doc retention insurance policies. We’ll ship you extra particulars very quickly.

The information offers Skyward’s present prospects solely about two months to seek out an alternate platform to handle their drone flights. That mentioned, DroneDeploy founder Michael Winn, whose firm is usually seen as a Skyward competitor, was fast to sympathize — and likewise capitalize on the information:

” The corporate stays centered on its funding in floor robotic administration, connectivity providers, and resolution growth, in accordance with an announcement offered by Verizon to The Drone Woman. “The Verizon Robotics Group permits enterprise prospects to effectively undertake and scale Autonomous Cellular Robots (AMR) to enhance productiveness, ship quicker time to perception, and cut back prices by automation and 5G.”

Whereas it’s nonetheless not totally clear what is going to occur to all of Skyward’s belongings, many staff had been unexpectedly laid off, in accordance with their social media posts.

A Verizon spokesperson mentioned it expects that some staff will nonetheless stick with Verizon Robotics, whereas others will switch to different positions inside Verizon. However others, like those that have posted on the Web above, must discover alternatives elsewhere.

The information feels significantly surprising provided that Skyward staff simply returned from the AUVSI XPONENTIAL 22 convention, the place the corporate had a reasonably robust presence. Verizon Robotics ran a sales space the place Skyward hosted demos on making maps with drones, mentioned BVLOS drone flights and extra. Skydio additionally received second place in AUVSI’s Xcellence awards within the class of Expertise for Software program, Design, and Coding.

Verizon and Skyward have had a reasonably sturdy presence within the drone business. Skyward say on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Drone Advisory Committee (often known as DAC), giving it a reasonably robust voice in offering the FAA with recommendation on drone-related integration points.

The corporate made a splash at CES 2021 when it revealed its collaboration with UPS Flight Ahead (the drone supply arm of UPS), saying that it was testing 5G integration for drone supply of retail merchandise at The Villages in Florida. That partnership started in 2020, when Verizon, UPS Flight Ahead, and Skyward began testing 4G LTE in supply drones to exhibit mobile reliability and efficiency at altitude. Verizon’s Skyward additionally had a novel Memorandum of Settlement with the FAA the place it might suggest requirements for operations, together with BVLOS flights, and flights occurring over the business wi-fi spectrum.

Skyward Verizon Pendleton Oregon UAS range
The Pendleton UAS Vary. Photograph courtesy of Verizon Robotics.

And at the start of this yr, Verizon Robotics mentioned it might head to Oregon’s Pendleton Unmanned Aerial Methods Vary to check varied proof-of-concept capabilities primarily round lengthy vary robotics. 

Skyward sits inside Verizon’s broader Robotics Enterprise Expertise unit, which additionally features a firm referred to as incubed IT which builds software program for autonomous cellular robots and was acquired by Verizon in February 2021.

And a Verizon spokesperson confirmed that different features of Verizon Robotics would forge on.

“This choice is about market agility and guaranteeing that Verizon continues to deal with areas that present each close to and mid-term progress alternatives,” a Verizon spokesperson advised The Drone Woman. “We proceed to focus our funding on floor robotics together with incubedIT, supporting industrial and outside makes use of within the US and Europe.”

Are you shocked by the information that Skyward is shutting down? Share your ideas within the feedback under.


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