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.