Skyward launching drone to assist in fighting wildfires

July 6, 2021

By Katie Aldridge

After more than two decades offering engineering services, Skyward is launching a new product — a drone designed to assist emergency responders fighting wildfires.

Skyward is one of 10 companies tapped for the the second cohort of the Dayton Region’s Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) Defense Accelerator, powered by Launch Dayton partners Parallax Advanced Research and the Entrepreneurs’ Center.

We recently caught up with company president Dan Cyphers to learn more about the company’s work. Our conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.

Launch Dayton: What do you do at Skyward?

Dan: Skyward is an engineering service and custom solution provider, focused on enhancing the survivability and mission effectiveness of our customer’s people and resources. We support both government and private industry. We help defense customers identify and fix vulnerability issues associated with combat vehicles, which in turn can help save the lives of crews operating these vehicles. Recently, we have expanded our support to other government and industry organizations involved in areas such as firefighting and disaster response.

What technology are you focusing on in the UAS Accelerator program?

Our new system is a UAS-based data collection and analysis architecture. Its first focus is providing real-time surveillance in combating wildfires. It enables the visualization of fire fronts, safe zones, and escape routes, while tracking firefighters on the ground. It can be targeted to a number of other applications, including disaster preparedness and response, border and event security, flood management, and electrical line inspection. The system is modular, so a number of different UAS and sensors can be integrated, if desired.

Why this idea?

The theme of a lot of what we get involved with is survivability. Our company’s main focus is understanding fires, like how they’re started. I had a personal interest in fire safety. My father was a fire chief and I had relatives in search and rescue. We thought, if we’re going to expand into commercial applications and get out of our niche area, why not target game-changing technology.

Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?

In the back of my mind, I always wanted to be a part of a small business. I would say yes. Working for bigger companies, you have the potential to move up the chain, but you’re always answering to someone else. The idea of actually being able to be in charge of your own destiny has always been a thought in my mind.

Why do you love what do you?

It is part of fulfilling the inner need of taking charge of something and rise or fall based on what I do. One of the fun things about Skyward is that there is always something different going on all the time. The working environment here is very collaborative.

How can the Launch Dayton community support you?

A lot of our projects are relatable to different industries. We are always looking to expand our relationships, so we can sell to them or become partners. We like to develop customize solutions; we are always looking for unique partners who want to do something constructive.

Learn more about Skyward here.