US drone manufacturer Skydio has said that it has made some senior hires of people with military backgrounds. The news not only comes on Veterans Day, but signals a business direction.

Up until 1954, November 11 was called Armistice Day. It marks the end of World War I when – on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – major hostilities with Germany ended. It is marked in many countries, including Canada and the UK. And while that’s not normally a peg for news from the drone world, today it is. Skydio, fresh from its $100M Series C, has announced a number of new hires. And three of those hires come from a military background.

There’s some significance to that.

The hires

In a news release, Skydio announced multiple new senior hires. They include:

Skydio says these hires, and other managers noted in the release, “combine an accomplished federal law enforcement, military and intelligence background with deep technical expertise on the use of drones in real life scenarios.”

Veterans are vital to our communities, our country and our world. I am honored to celebrate our Veterans at Skydio and across the US today. On behalf of our company, we thank all members of the military and their families, in all branches, past and present, for their service and sacrifice. A special nod to Trent, Sai, Ron and Dylan, an essential part of our team, and a driving force behind helping to speed autonomous drone technology into the hands of key operational users.

Mark Cranney, COO, Skydio

Skydio graphic…

Military (and drone) backgrounds

The four mentioned above all have pretty deep backgrounds in the military. This, we believe, has significance – especially with the imminent delivery of the first Skydio X2D drones. Trent Hall’s experience includes being a Green Beret Detachment Commander in the US Army and a Paramilitary Operations Officer with the CIA. One of his focuses is key strategic partnerships.

My initial experience with drones was during my first combat deployment to Afghanistan. I’ve learned some key lessons from my experience and the takeaways revolved around the importance of real time situational awareness that saves lives in a high stakes environment. I plan to translate both my enterprise and military background into building the best partner ecosystem at Skydio to bring our world-leading autonomous drones to responders’ hands globally.”

Trent Hall, Skydio’s Vice President of Channel Alliances

Skydio X2
Skydio clearly sees its X2D playing a role with the US military

Sai Williams served more than 22 years as a SEAL, leading Special Operations teams in various locations around the world. Interestingly, he recently served at the military’s Defense Innovation Unit, or DIU. That’s kind of interesting, as the DIU is the group that vetted the drones for the Blue sUAS list of US-made drones approved for purchase by the US military and certain government departments. Skydio’s X2D is one of five drones on that list.

Ron Bellavia, says the news release, “served for 25 over years as executive-level federal law enforcement agent at the Department of Homeland Security and in international assignments as part of the multi-national force in Iraq and of the Department of Defense (AFRICOM) in Stuttgart, Germany. He led border national security teams for large-scale operations deploying drones in an austere field environment and established first command of the U.S. Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue team.”

Dylan Hamm is another former SEAL, who spent over 12 years in Special Operations as a SEAL. He has a lot of experience with drones, says the release, and their ability to help troops with situational awareness.

At Skydio, Dylan aims to get autonomous drone capabilities into the hands of those who put their lives on the line every day, for something bigger than themselves. In this role he will drive development of new, unique platforms, building upon the foundation of autonomy Skydio has laid out, to achieve a higher level of utility, safety and reliability, for UAS in the future. 

Skydio news release

The release also includes some of Hamm’s own thoughts about his new job – and the important role drones can play.

Those serving our Nation, whether Stateside or forward deployed, deserve our appreciation, admiration and support. With Skydio, I hope to help equip these individuals with the technology capable of improving both their situational awareness, as well as safety. The ability to reduce the probability of a crash, while also reducing the cognitive workload of the pilot, is a gamechanger for troops on the ground who are focused on their already complex mission.

Dylan Hamm, Solutions Engineer

The big picture

Makes sense that Skydio would make these announcements on Veterans Day. But they also signal a clear push that Skydio will be making on sales to the military and likely law enforcement. Having senior staff with actual field experience in the military will give them some street cred when doing outreach – and the fact some of these new hires have experience with drones in the field can only help.

In case you missed it in our other story, Skydio also released a video teaser today. It says a video series will be coming soon…focusing on fictionalized stories that illustrate the real-world assistance drones can provide in the field.

Slick little promo from Skydio

We’ll be watching with interest for the release.

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