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Skyward, a drone management company owned by Verizon, is shutting down. The company’s drone software platform helped customers manage their entire drone workflow, including training crews, planning missions, accessing controlled airspace and more.
Skyward sent its customers an email to announce the closure. The email stated: “We are announcing today that Skyward, a Verizon company, will be ending operations in the coming weeks. This was not an easy decision. The Verizon Robotics team will be focusing our efforts on ground robot management, connectivity services, and solution development.”
Skyward began in 2013 in Portland, Oregon, and was acquired by Verizon in 2017. At the time, Verizon planned to use the company’s technology to streamline drone operation management through one platform.
Since the acquisition, Skyward’s drones received an Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) waiver to operate during Washington’s 2020 wildfires. The FAA and Skyward also collaborated in 2021 to test cellular-connected drones.
The decision to close Skyward came as a surprise to many of the company’s customers. According to the email sent to customers, Skyward’s Drone Management Platform will continue to be in use through June 30, 2022. Afterwards, users will no longer have access, according to the company.
“This decision is about market agility and ensuring that Verizon continues to focus on areas that provide both near and mid-term growth opportunities,” A Verizon representative told DroneLife. “We continue to focus our investment on ground robotics including incubedIT, supporting industrial and outdoor uses in the US and Europe.”
In February 2021, Verizon acquired incubed IT, an Austria-based startup that develops autonomous navigation and fleet management software for autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). Verizon launched its Robotics Business Technology unit, which included Skyward, in July 2021. The company won an RBR50 Robotics Innovation Award in 2022.
Since opening the new business unit, Verizon seems to have pivoted more and more towards AMRs. “The Verizon Robotics Group enables enterprise customers to efficiently adopt and scale Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR) to improve productivity, deliver faster time to insight, and reduce costs through automation and 5G,” it said in a statement to DroneLife.
The video below from CES 2021 details part of the vision Skyward and Verizon had for the future.