Axon, a public safety, tech and weapons company perhaps best known for its TASER stun-gun, is bringing Skydio drones into its mix.
The Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company today announced a partnership with Silicon Valley-based drone maker Skydio to offer Skydio’s autonomous drones to law enforcement and emergency responders via Axon’s unmanned aircraft program, Axon Air.
That means Axon will become an exclusive reseller of Skydio products to public safety organizations, which includes law enforcement, firefighting, and emergency response agencies.
The partnership also is set to result in an upcoming integration between Skydio drones and other arms of the company which include Axon Air (an arm that has already been using other, non-Skydio drones), Axon Evidence (a software program for managing data), and Axon Respond (a software that manages all aspects of emergency operations including dispatching, real-time communications and situational awareness).
Starting today, Skydio drones (both the Skydio 2 and Skydio X2) will be available for purchase by Axon. Axon Evidence and Respond for Devices integration is set to be available later this year.
With the newly-announced partnership, agencies will now be able to gather Skydio drone-captured imagery and then manage and share that data (alongside data and video collected from other means such as body camera video) in the Axon Evidence digital evidence management platform. Additionally, Axon’s real-time operations platform, Respond for Devices, will enable responders to access live-streamed views from on-the-ground body cameras and drone footage. Skydio’s 3D adaptive scanning software, Skydio 3D Scan, is also set to work into the Axon suite of Axon products by automating scans of crime and accident scenes to create 3D reconstruction models.
Public safety has long been seen as one of the verticals most prime for adopting drones. Law enforcement situations involving drones including search and rescue, traffic collision reconstruction, investigating active suspect situations, crime scene analysis, surveillance and crowd monitoring.
Indeed, many big drone companies are prioritizing public safety and first response as verticals to focus on this year. For example, Auterion recently hired former Senior Director of Public Safety Integration at DJI, Romeo Durscher, to serve as its new Vice President of Public Safety, where he’ll be focused on helping first responders use drone systems with open source software.
The Axon partnership is also likely to be a huge boon for Skydio, which will now be aligned with the nation’s largest first responder technology provider. Skydio has been on a massive growth trend lately, marked by a recent $1 billion valuation after the company announced a $170 million Series D funding round earlier this month.
Skydio largely launched as a consumer tech company with its original Skydio drone that — since it was nearly impossible to crash — was ideal for situations like filming action sports (think snowboarders rushing down a tree-lined slope). But as its technology showed promise in enterprise work, Skydio improved upon that drone with the Skydio 2, before launching an even smarter family of drones equipped with thermal cameras called Skydio X2.
Skydio has been landing more partnerships the likes of this latest Axon news. It recently landed a drone deal with EagleView for residential roof inspection, and its drones are used among major enterprise and public sector organizations including Jacobs Engineering, Sundt Construction, the US Civil Air Patrol, Ohio Department of Transportation, North Carolina Department of Transportation, Boston PD, and the Sacramento Metro Fire Department. The company also has an active role in the FAA’s BEYOND program.
The partnership also signals that more American tech companies are joining forces, a pattern emerging amidst increasing “buy American” sentiment — and anti-Chinese (or more specifically anti-DJI) sentiment. Skydio designs, assembles and supports its products in the U.S., and its Skydio X2 drone was named ‘a trusted drone platform’ for the Department of Defense and the Federal Government as part of the Defense Innovation Unit’s Blue sUAS Program. Meanwhile, many federal agencies have been hesitant, to say the least, about using DJI drones out of concerns about data privacy, among other issues.
This is not Axon’s first foray into drones. In fact, Axon actually does partner with DJI. DJI drones already integrate into Axon Evidence. Axon has also partnered with tethered drone maker Fotokite which, like Skydio, also initially launched as a more consumer-focused company with its Fotokite Pro, before leaning into the enterprise market.