Motorola director explains tethered drone investment

By Luke Geiver | March 19, 2015

Motorola Solutions is looking to tethered-powered unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs) for future use in mission critical communications in the public and private sector. The company recently announced it has invested in CyPhy Works, a UAV developer that has created a system that utilizes a microfilament tether connected to a UAV. The tethered connection allows the UAV to stay in flight for multiple hours, if not days, and provide a constant high-definition feed.

UAS Magazine spoke with Reese Schroeder, managing director of Motorola Solutions Venture Capital, who led Motorola’s research and investment in the drone developer. “The companies we invest in have always fit into our strategic thesis,” Schroeder said. “We always consider how they could work with us from a business standpoint.”

Motorola’s initial investment total in CyPhy Works wasn’t disclosed, and although Schroeder said the communications company hasn’t yet purchased a large sum of drones from CyPhy Works, it is working together with the company for future projects and service offerings.

“As we continue to build out next generation public safety services, we look at CyPhy Works as a terrific service for incident management,” he said. Incident examples include building fires, explosions, or other difficult to monitor situations. The tethered drone can by deployed and run for hours, giving Motorola or other public agencies “eyes and ears on scene.”

Use of the system can help resolve incidents faster and provide information to help prevent critical situations escalate, according to Paul Steinberg, chief technology officer at Motorola Solutions.

The system is offered with no-pilot hardware, autopilot, control software, high-definition and infrared imaging and laser measurement sensors. The tethered system powers the UAV, eliminating the need to stop flight for battery charging.  

For Schroeder and his team, the draw of CyPhy Works was the team and the unique technology. The company was started by iRobot co-founder Helen Greiner.

And, according to Schroeder, the technology is unique amongst the constantly growing field of sUAVs.

On the greater UAS industry, Schroeder said its future is clear. “Anybody can see that this is an industry that is going to be growing and we are going to hear more and more about it. I definitely see more and more emerging use case drone technologies and we hope to be a part of that [with CyPhy Works].”