Skydio’s R1 Drone Costs Mere $2,500
Say you want to take photos on a beautiful hiking trail in Sedona. You could carry your camera and bag, or even just your smart phone and capture some of the world’s greatest scenery. Maybe even a selfie with red rocks in the background. However, if you wanted to stay hands-free and still get the best photos of your life depicting yourself and the scenery, then a drone is the answer.
Introducing Skydio, an AI-driven 4k shooting drone in a box. It’s so advanced, it doesn’t even come with a controller⎯you use a mobile app from your phone.
Created by a startup in Redwood City, California, the drone took four years to develop: “The R1, as it’s called, is an artificial intelligence-powered quadcopter capable of shooting 4K video of a subject and maneuvering complex environments all on its own. Using industry advancements in AI to help train a custom computer vision system, Skydio developed a product that’s effectively the first professional-grade drone that can be flown without any expertise whatsoever, the company claims.”
It’s a product quite a few startups have tried and failed to deliver: full autonomous drone flight that is both safe and robust at high speeds and in busy environments. But few companies, beyond drone heavyweight DJI, have come even remotely close. Most drones today, including both cheap entry-level units and multi-thousand-dollar rigs designed for professional use, involve by default a manual system using an external controller, which relies on at least a bit of know-how to operate.
Skydio’s R1, however, uses 13 onboard cameras to do real-time mapping, path planning and obstacle avoidance. An Nvidia Jetson TX1 computer, mainly the brain of prototype self-driving car systems, is used for onboard processing. Skydio’s software combines all that data with built-in algorithms trained to recognize humans and other distinct objects like trees and cars. That way, the drone is able to avoid dangerous elements in an environment and follow a user through different terrains and situations, from ski slopes to mountain bike trails.
CEO of Skydio Adam Bry put it this way in an article found in the verge.com.
“This product is less about the experience of manually flying it and much more about the content that you can create. There are always going to be people who enjoy flying, which is great,” Bry says. “But our bet is that there are a lot of people who are excited about what a drone can do, but who are more excited about what it can do for them.”
Now the Skydio drone is $2,500 and is being released this month.