The consumer drones are all the hype these days, they allow us to capture sophisticated and great looking aerial footage without costing a fortune. If you own a drone then you must know that these gadgets need some pilot skills to properly maneuver as you would not want your $1000 drone to crash, but what if these UAVs were smart enough to fly autonomously and follow you around without anyone controlling it.
A California-based startup company, Skydio has manufactured the first ever fully autonomous drone called the Skydio R1. Unlike other drones which rely on GPS for autonomous flights, the R1 is completely different and is equipped with advanced obstacle avoidance system which allows it to fly at speed of 25 mph without crashing in a tree, wall or in any kind of situation.
The drone is equipped with 13 cameras, 12 of which develop a 3D map of the surrounding and using AI it predicts the movements of the target up to four seconds in the future while following it and avoiding all manners of obstacles. This will allow you to launch this drone and go for a run or cycling and it will follow you around autonomously with ease and will capture your great life moments in 4K.
Adam Bry, the CEO of Skydio said:
“I’ve probably taken four selfies in my entire life, but I love running and I love biking, and over the past 6 months using the R1 to capture activities with my friends has been incredible. And those pictures and videos are fun for us and meaningful for me and I think there’s something special there that people really connect with.”
The Skydio R1 has 4 flight modes to track down the subject: it can just simply follow you or it can predict your path and fly in front of you. It can also move side to side or rotate 360 degrees around you as you move. You can also control the drone manually using virtual joysticks present in its smartphone app. The device is fairly simple to use you just connect the drone using the WiFi on your smartphone and launch the app, then just select the tracking mode and swipe up to launch it off the ground then it will detect the subject and will be all ready to follow you around everywhere. Skydio is so confident in its abilities that the R1 doesn’t even ship with a controller. Everything is managed through the app.
The drone is nearly impossible to crash no matter how hard you try or fly it in tight surroundings. It is equipped with 256 core Nvidia TX1 chip which is a combination of powerful CPU and GPU, this is the same chip that is used in self-driving cars. The artificial intelligence also uses a combination of deep neural networks to identify the people around it and creates a visual identifier for everyone so that it can focus on the right subject.
The videos quality of this device is pretty smooth and impressive thanks to its 3 axis gimbal although it lacks manual control and color profile, it still captures Instagram ready HD photos and videos. You can record videos in 4K at 30 FPS and 1080p at 60 FPS. The build quality is also great, it is made up of aerospace materials including carbon fiber and lightweight aluminium which make the device feel pretty solid.
You get two batteries inside the box, each battery provides 16 min of flight time on a single full charge which is standard. It also has 64 Gigs onboard storage which is good for about an hour and a half of 4K and four hours of 1080p video so you never have to worry about forgetting the memory card. The only major down point of this drone is its low range since it uses WiFi instead of Radio frequency. The wings are not foldable and it is big in size compared to some other drones in the market but can be still carried in your backpack.
The Skydio R1 is available in the United States and Canada for around $2500 which is pretty expensive and you can get three DJI Mavic Air for that price but currently, the Skydio R1 is one of its kind and is the best autonomous drone that you can get your hands on. This drone has proven what the artificial intelligence and software can make a huge difference. But can this technology justify the two and a half thousand price ta and win over buyers? Tell us what you think about it in the comment section below.