We always talk about how quickly things move in the drone space, but the pace and scope of the changes we’ve seen in the past few weeks is rather stunning. Numerous experts talked about the kind of shake-ups 2017 was likely to bring for the industry, and we can add another one to the list with the announcement that Verizon has acquired Skyward.
The deal is being promoted as a key element in Verizon’s Airborne LTE Operations (ALO) initiative, which is a new service to simplify certification and connectivity of wireless drones. Seeing as how the Skyward solution is designed to effectively connect the people and processes in a drone program, it’s no surprise to see that Verizon is looking to bring Skyward’s drone operations management to the Verizon Internet of Things (IoT) portfolio.
The partnerships Skyward has formed with companies like senseFly, DroneDeploy and PrecisionHawk showcase how the company is working to make connections across the industry for the benefit of users on both sides of a project. Their focus goes beyond the short-term benefits of these kinds of developments though. I’ve previously connected with Jonathan Evans, Skyward Co-President, to talk through major developments like the creation of a UAS traffic management (UTM) system, which is just one of the possibilities that we could eventually see come from the kind of connectivity that is at the center of this acquisition.
“The work we’re doing at Skyward lays the foundation of an equitable, safe, regulated, intelligent drone network that businesses of all sizes can participate in and innovate with—just as we do with the Internet today,” said Evans.
At both the Commercial UAV Expo and the recently wrapped up International LiDAR Mapping Forum, Ken Kranz talked about being able to utilize big data and the IoT to maximize efficiency with drone flights. Real time streaming, complex event processing and post processing technologies will all impact the way in which operators are able to maximize efficiency with a drone, and this acquisition looks to be pulling together the sort of systems and processes that will specifically enable these kinds of efficiencies and opportunities.
The deal is likely a development that relates back to the investment Verizon made in Skyward back in 2015, although terms of this acquisition have not been disclosed. What also hasn’t been disclosed is exactly what might change for Skyward in light of this development, although the company has released a few pieces of info related to how it’s set to move forward.
”Our intention is to stay in Portland,” said Mariah Scott, Skyward Co-President. “Portland is a fantastic city to do business in, and the drone industry is pushing forward computer science and aviation, two industries with rich histories in Oregon.”
A note on the Skyward site written by Scott and Evans mentions their customers and users can still expect to see the same focus and dedication from the company, and that it’s going to be business as usual. It also mentions they have a lot in store, so stay tuned for more info about what this means for Skyward and the drone industry as a whole.