The first frame of the com­mer­cial shows the DJI Phan­tom 4 fly­ing straight at a road sign and then crash­ing to the ground. Then the text appears — “Drones are stu­pid.”

Clear­ly, the guys at Sky­dio aren’t mess­ing around. And such com­par­isons with DJI are a bold and inte­gral part of the com­pa­ny’s mar­ket­ing. It’s refresh­ing.


To behave like this, you real­ly need to release some­thing spe­cial, have some inter­est­ing tech­nol­o­gy.

After all, who can for­get the hype about the GoPro mar­ket­ing cam­paign, which quick­ly turned into a hor­ror show when Kar­ma start­ed to ran­dom­ly fall to the ground and end­ed up killing the GoPro drones that nev­er got off the ground.

Luck­i­ly for Sky­dio, the Amer­i­can com­pa­ny’s new drone has a lot going for it.

The orig­i­nal R1 was a drone that com­bined aer­i­al pho­tog­ra­phy with sens­ing and avoid­ance-based com­put­er vision tech­nol­o­gy that we had not seen before. It was undoubt­ed­ly an engi­neer­ing feat.

Sky­dio’s goal has always been to cre­ate a kind of fly­ing film crew, a drone smart enough to han­dle all the con­trols while you’re film­ing.

But, despite the rather good results and achieve­ment of the set goals, there were also ques­tions like “is the R1 afford­able enough for the con­sumer mar­ket”, and “does the qual­i­ty of the cam­era match its inter­nal com­plex­i­ty”. Also was it ver­sa­tile enough for drone pilots who love to be, well…pilots. That is, isn’t there too much auton­o­my in this case?

In short, there was some­thing to think about — sev­er­al com­pro­mis­es in the devel­op­ment of a fly­ing super­com­put­er, which is quite fair.

“We want­ed to debunk the myth that an Amer­i­can com­pa­ny can’t build a good drone.” Sky­dio.

Ful­ly offline cin­e­matog­ra­phy.

Sky­dio 2 is an attempt to fix past prob­lems by build­ing on an already indus­try-lead­ing com­put­er vision sys­tem.

The new drone will hit the mar­ket at a very com­pet­i­tive price of $999, which is sig­nif­i­cant­ly cheap­er than the Mav­ic 2, which is, to put it blunt­ly, a very pleas­ant sur­prise. It’s also more than $1,500 cheap­er than the orig­i­nal R1, which is encour­ag­ing.


So far, DJI has been able to sti­fle most of the com­pe­ti­tion in the hard­ware mar­ket with aggres­sive pric­ing, but it looks like Sky­dio has found an effec­tive way to sell a supe­ri­or prod­uct for less.

Sky­dio 2 has an improved cam­era — based on a Sony 1 / 2.3 ”, 12.3MP matrix, which pro­vides video shoot­ing up to 4K and 60fps, and also sup­ports HDR. Flight time increased from 16 to 23 min­utes on 1 bat­tery.

The max­i­mum speed can reach 57–58km/h and it is also com­pact enough to take with you. The com­pa­ny says it will fit any­where a 13″ lap­top can fit.

An NVIDIA Jet­son TX2 proces­sor is installed inside, which is the fastest and most ener­gy effi­cient arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence on the mar­ket. It is equipped with a GPU with 256 cores, per­form­ing 1.3 tril­lion oper­a­tions per sec­ond. You most like­ly will not be able to crash the drone in the fore­see­able future.

In fact, the com­pa­ny is so con­fi­dent in its tech­nol­o­gy that if you oper­ate your Sky­dio 2 in accor­dance with the “safe flight rules”, Sky­dio will repair or replace crashed drones for free.

“We have a lot of respect for DJI and the prod­ucts they cre­ate, but the indus­try as a whole is not healthy. The cur­rent gen­er­a­tion of hand-oper­at­ed drones has­n’t brought to life the ideas that have so excit­ed many of us over the past few years. They claim to have cre­at­ed an autonomous flight sys­tem, but this is still an option­al fea­ture and not a cred­i­ble piece of core func­tion­al­i­ty.” Sky­dio.

Sky­dio 2 with bea­con and con­troller

There are a cou­ple of new acces­sories that will appeal to those who want­ed the ver­sa­til­i­ty of the R1.

The new con­troller (which looks sus­pi­cious­ly sim­i­lar to the Par­rot Anafi con­troller) extends the Sky­dio 2’s range to 3.5km. Pilots man­age the flight man­u­al­ly, while still enjoy­ing all the safe­ty ben­e­fits pro­vid­ed by the arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence sys­tem and col­li­sion avoid­ance with obsta­cles in all direc­tions.

This is a huge plus for poten­tial buy­ers who pre­vi­ous­ly feared that Sky­dio drones might not pro­vide the flex­i­bil­i­ty they were look­ing for.


A new acces­so­ry has also appeared — the Sky­dio bea­con. It pro­vides com­mu­ni­ca­tion up to 1.5 km and adds GPS track­ing so Sky­dio 2 can fol­low you with­out even hav­ing direct con­tact.

The bea­con can be used as a kind of con­troller. You can con­trol the drone sim­ply by point­ing where to fly, as well as acti­vate fea­tures such as Dronie or Rock­et with the touch of a but­ton.


The only thing that annoys — the cost of the con­troller — $ 150.

It’s very nice that Sky­dio is a real con­tin­u­a­tion of the R1 idea. The price is com­pet­i­tive, the fea­tures seem unmatched plus an unheard of war­ran­ty.

It is a com­pa­ny that has com­plete con­fi­dence in its prod­uct and the under­ly­ing tech­nolo­gies that it has spent con­sid­er­able time devel­op­ing. It will be very inter­est­ing to see how the indus­try will take this drone and how the Sky­dio 2 will be used by the gen­er­al pub­lic and not just in the hands of enthu­si­asts.

It’s high time a real DJI com­peti­tor emerges. Pilots and pro­fes­sion­als around the world will ben­e­fit from com­pe­ti­tion that will spur inno­va­tion.


By Yara