General Electric (GE) launched a drone business, while it sheds others, as the U.S. ropes in companies such as GE, Intel (INTC) and FedEx (FDX) to help it manage the sharp growth in unmanned, autonomous vehicle technologies on the ground and in the air.
GE’s new company, dubbed AiRXOS, will help government agencies, aviation authorities and private-sector firms manage drone traffic and achieve safer flights, the industrial giant said in a news release Thursday.
The AiRXOS launch comes almost a month after news of a partnership between the U.S. government and companies such as GE, Intel, FedEx on drone projects. Details on what role Intel and GE would play were scarce at that time.
FedEx will use drones to inspect aircraft and deliver parts at Memphis International Airport. American cities and states have similar tie-ups as drones proliferate, with T-Mobile (TMUS) helping the city of Reno, Nev., test defibrillator deliveries via drones.
Notably, tech and retail giant Amazon (AMZN), which has pushed for drone deliveries, was snubbed in that public-private sector collaboration.
Shares of GE closed up 1% at 13.78 in stock market today.
GE Aviation, Drones
GE told Investor’s Business Daily that its AiRXOS subsidiary, co-owned by GE Aviation and GE Ventures, offers hardware, software and services for smoother manned and unmanned vehicles.
AiRXOS is not GE’s first brush with drones and other types of robotics.
Its Avitas Systems venture, launched in June 2017, uses drones combined with artificial intelligence and data analytics to inspect refineries, factories and railroads. This allows for safer more frequent inspections, while reducing costs, GE said.
GE Aviation is seen by some analysts as a crown jewel in its sprawling portfolio. The Boston-based company seeks a turnaround that will see $20 billion in assets offloaded and even perhaps the giant broken up into separate publicly traded companies.
“What AiRXOS offers is the infrastructure and advanced operations necessary to unlock the emerging markets of autonomous flight,” said Kenneth Stewart, AiRXOS general manager.
While drones have generated some controversy, the Trump administration seeks to integrate them in the broad aviation landscape.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told IBD in January that she lamented the many “outdated and duplicative regulations that really hamper the growth of innovation.”
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