How Verizon shuttering Skyward impacts Parrot ANAFI Ai drone rollout

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Skyward, wireless carrier Verizon’s drone software subsidiary, will be ending operations in the coming weeks. In addition to the quandary this development presents Skyward customers with, the unexpected news puts in a limbo European drone maker Parrot’s plan to make its ANAFI Ai craft 4G-enabled right out of the box.

Parrot and Skyward-Verizon have been collaborating for a while now – first offering training to ANAFI USA users collectively, and then putting together an extensive rollout plan for the new ANAFI Ai drone in the United States. Heck, Skyward subscribers were even promised Verizon 4G LTE connectivity for their ANAFI Ai drone at no additional cost!

While hyping 4G as the “new communications standard” for the enterprise drone industry, Henri Seydoux, founder and CEO of Parrot, had said:

Advanced artificial intelligence, autonomous flights, best-in-class imaging, photogrammetry accuracy, and reliable 4G LTE connectivity on the Verizon network will put powerful new tools in the hands of professionals like never before and we truly believe it is a gamechanger for the professional drone industry.

But as news broke that Skyward was exiting the drone business, Parrot took to social media to reassure customers that the Verizon’s decision to shut down its subsidiary does not impact the drone manufacturer’s go-to-market strategy or distribution, with the simple explanation being: ANAFI Ai works regardless of 4G network carrier.

“Following the decision taken by Verizon to end Skyward activities, by consequence Parrot ANAFI Ai will no longer be available from Skyward,” the company said. “However, this doesn’t impact Parrot’s go-to-market or distribution, as we are very well established in the United States.”

Parrot pointed out that professionals could still get the ANAFI Ai through the company’s dealer network, while the drone’s development on an open platform meant it was compatible with several other software alternatives.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the chief selling factor for the ANAFI Ai has been its ability to use 4G LTE as the primary data link between the drone and the operator. This innovation would give professionals the freedom to operate the drone at any distance, wherever there’s a 4G signal, enabling Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flights as well.

Thankfully, the drone is network-agnostic – which means Parrot can rope in other carriers to offer 4G connectivity instead. Also, while earlier the drone maker required ANAFI Ai users to become paying customers of Skyward to utilize the 4G feature from Verizon, it may work out an alternative arrangement with the carrier in the days to come.

We’ll surely keep you posted on that. But in the meantime, let us know in the comments below what you think about this development.

Read more: US government drags HobbyKing to court as $2.8M illegal drone transmitters fine remains unpaid

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