April 25, 2024

Skydio Extend: Scaling your drone programs through data & automation

Gagan Kanwar, Skydio Head of Tech Partnerships / Dev. Ecosystem

Gagan Kanwar

Skydio Extend API partner integration

Skydio is changing the way work gets done. As drones have matured from innovation projects to mission-critical platforms that support public safety incidents, critical infrastructure inspections, and more, organizations need a better way to integrate the data captured by a drone and its core capabilities into existing programs and systems.

But what does systems and program integrations in the context of drone data and capabilities really mean? To answer that question, I spoke to hundreds of Skydio customers, partners and colleagues over the past 15 months. Here’s what I learned in those conversations, boiled down into a few headlines:

  1. APIs alone don't cut it: While APIs can be very useful for customers or partners, not everyone has an IT team or dedicated technical resources. Specifically, our users often lack IT resources, and hence, drone integrations need to be simple and not require IT.
  2. Connectors are necessary, but not sufficient: The ability to connect to a system (e.g. AWS S3) is important, but connectors that don't take customer-specific “business logic” into account only do the job halfway. In this scenario, a human would still need to log in and complete outstanding “business logic” tasks before the integration is truly done.
  3. Integration needs to be both upstream and downstream of flights: It’s one thing to send drone-captured data to a system after a flight. It’s another thing to automatically trigger a flight based on a critical event (e.g. a Shotspotter alert) or do both. Being able to integrate across both upstream and downstream scenarios is harder, but ultimately, this is part of what customers need to get more value from their drone programs.
  4. Drone programs thrive in an ecosystem, not in a vacuum: While we may romanticize the solo drone pilot completing a dangerous mission, the reality is that most drone programs are cross-functional in nature. From Part 107 pilots who capture data, to analysts who review imagery, to supervisors who manage credentialing and fleets, to IT wizards building machine-learning pipelines, and more. As such integration tools must serve all stakeholders, and ensure that they’re not just integrating across systems, but fostering collaboration by notifying stakeholders when relevant actions are ready for their attention. At the end of the day, integrations should be about creating end-to-end workflows that bring participants together, and make their jobs easier and faster. That is the promise of automation done well.

Over the past year, we’ve been working hard to build an industry-first integration solution and today, we’re happy to announce Skydio Extend, our suite of workflows, integrations, dev tools, and services that truly integrate drone-captured data and capabilities into your workflows, both to initiate missions and to transform your raw data into actionable insights for your organizational and IT teams.

Skydio Extend data flow

Skydio Extend: Beyond Integrations

With Skydio Extend, you can connect your drone-captured data to key business systems without taxing IT resources. When you pair that with Dock-based Skydio drones flying autonomous missions, you could see a tenfold (cost-effective) scaling up of your drone program.

Solving business problems today with Skydio Extend

Skydio Extend is already transforming manual processes into automated customer workflows – the possibilities are limitless. Here are some early examples:

Skydio Extend data flow integration

  1. Security Operations: A manufacturer uses Dock-based drones for site security at production and distribution facilities. Alerts from motion sensors or dispatch systems to automatically activate a drone flight to the relevant coordinates, providing a live stream to security teams, and ultimately improving safety, situational awareness, and operational coordination.
  2. Inventory Management: BNSF Railway uses Skydio drones to scan labels on rail containers. By integrating with a third-party AI tool to extract container IDs from drone-captured images and sending data to their inventory management system, they know the precise location of every container – sayonara, shipment delays.
  3. Construction Monitoring: An engineering firm uses Dock-based drones to monitor daily progress at vast construction sites. It can now integrate drone-captured visuals with specialized photogrammetry software (like DroneDeploy) and cloud storage services (e.g. AWS S3) to juxtapose real-time progress with 3D models and blueprints, thus saving potential cost overruns and rework by identifying construction discrepancies early.
Skydio Extend automated data flow

Inside Skydio Extend

Here's what Skydio Extend brings to the table:

  1. Skydio-Built Workflows: These workflows include a growing list of integrations to key applications and systems for analytics, cloud storage, photogrammetry, and more. They can also trigger flights based on business alerts or events.
  2. Partner-Built Integrations: Partners also build integrations to Skydio. These partner-built integrations enable Skydio data to be consumed directly inside partner apps like AirData, Aloft, gNext, DroneSense and many more.
  3. Developer Tools: While most customers will find what they need with our integrations and workflows, for customers with bespoke needs and available IT resources, we offer a complete set of APIs and dev tools to build exactly what you need with Skydio.
  4. Professional Services: If you don’t have IT resources and need help getting something built or customized, the Skydio professional services team can work with you to create, modify, test, and deploy your integration workflows., incluing helping you get Partner-built integrations up and running.

While we’re still in early days with Skydio Extend, you’re hopefully starting to get a glimpse of our broader vision for this new product: Delivering end-to-end solutions that help you scale your program, reduce time to insight, and drive business impact.

Excited? So are we. Contact us and let’s talk about your integration needs, and how we can help scale your program and drive more impact. The future is waiting.

About the author

Gagan Kanwar is the Head of Technology Partnerships and Developer Ecosystem at Skydio, the leading US manufacturer for drones. He previously led Partnerships at Spekit, MuleSoft (a division of Salesforce), and Marin Software.

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