Verizon announced this morning that Verizon Ventures, its venture capital group, has acquired Portland, Oregon-based unmanned aerial vehicle systems (UAV, aka drone) specialist Skyward for an undisclosed amount. Skyward specializes in  operations management for drones, and the Verizon Skyward acquisition could help Verizon in provisioning rate plans for drones on its network.

Verizon said the acquisition adds to its growing portfolio of entrepreneurial, IoT-driven tech companies, a core element of its high-growth business and market development strategy. Verizon’s IoT revenue grew 35 percent in 2016 to total $964 million.

Acquiring Skyward will enable Verizon to offer small, medium and large businesses a range of UAV-based operational and business services that can boost efficiencies and reduce costs, Verizon highlights in a news release.

Verizon Skyward Acquisition
“Last quarter we announced our strategy to drive innovation and widespread adoption for in-flight wireless connectivity through our Airborne LTE Operations (ALO) initiative, a new service to simplify certification and connectivity of wireless drones,” Verizon SVP, Enterprise Products and IOT Mike Lanman said.

“This acquisition is a natural progression of our core focus on operating in innovative, high-growth markets, leveraging our network, scale, fleet management, device management, data analytics and security enablement capabilities and services to simplify the drone industry and help support the adoption of IoT.”

Use of drones by businesses has been growing fast across market and industry sectors, but commercial use is at an initial stage of development.

Amazon’s use of a drone to deliver an Amazon Prime package to a customer in England in December marked the world’s first commercial drone delivery.

More broadly, recently released market research from ReportLinker revealed that less than half of Americans (47%) were interested in same-day drone delivery.

Verizon intends to leverage Skyward’s technology to streamline management of drone operations by integration of constituent elements into one platform designed to manage operations end to end, according to the company. That includes drone registration, FAA compliance support, mission planning, workflow design and management, provisioning rate plans for drones on Verizon’s network and providing information and other support services, such as restricted airspace and verifying pilot credentials.

Image courtesy of flickr user Richard Unten.

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