Skyward, the drone company that Verizon acquired in 2017, announced last week that it’s shutting down.
The move came as a surprise to customers and partners, according to Drone Life. The company sent an email to customers about the intention to shut down in the coming weeks.
In a statement, Verizon confirmed that Skyward was “exiting” its drone business.
“The company remains focused on its investment in ground robotic management, connectivity services, and solution development,” Verizon stated. “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.”
However, the decision to shut down is about “market agility” and “ensuring that Verizon continues to focus on areas that provide both near and mid-term growth opportunities,” the statement said.
Founded in 2012, the Portland, Oregon-based Skyward at one point wanted to be “the Verizon of drone services,” so to speak, a goal it was hoping to attain in part by participating in the process of actually creating rules for the road in the sky. At that time, Skyward was part of Verizon’s Telematics division, alongside the likes of Fleetmatics and Telogis.
It’s not clear how many employees will be affected. “We are working with employees and expect some will stay with Verizon Robotics, others will transfer to other positions within Verizon, and some may find opportunities elsewhere,” the company said in the statement.
Mariah Scott, former president of Skyward, is president of Verizon's Robotics Business Technology Group. In 2019, she was appointed to serve on the FAA’s Drone Advisory Committee.
Skyward helped enterprises manage drones. Last year, Verizon, Parrot and Skyward announced an exclusive partnership to bring the first out-of-the-box 4G LTE connected drone solution to the United States.