Skydio Launches The World’s First Consumer Level Fully Autonomous Drone

Mike Lavery | | Gear ReviewGear Review
The Skydio R1 Drone. Photo: Skydio

California based Skydio launched the world’s first and arguably most high tech autonomous consumer drone earlier this spring. If you’re thinking this is just another drone that’s going to get crashed within 5 minutes, money wasted, think again. If you film your own edits, you’re going to want one.

Skydio was started back in 2014 by a few engineers with the words “MIT” and “Google” on their resumes. After 4 years of development, their R1 drone debuted with computer vision based navigation – the same type of technology being used in self-driving cars. The drone is able to fly completely unaided, even in the most complex environments. Check out the video, it’s impressive stuff.

The R1 uses 13 onboard cameras to do mapping, route planning, and obstacle avoidance all in real time. Its AI computer systems are programmed to identify and avoid things like trees, buildings, and people. Once in the air, the onboard 4K camera will professionally capture whatever crazy activity you brought it out for with pre-programmed filming strategies like “lead” and “orbit.” You can manually fly the R1 from your phone, but its computer vision remains active and it won’t let you crash no matter how hard you try. It’s so autonomous, it doesn’t even come with a controller.

To be fair, there are already a few other autonomous drones out there. DJI, probably the world’s top drone maker, has a couple of them in its lineup. The big difference of the R1 is computer vision. DJI’s drones use GPS and infrared for navigation and avoidance, which Skydio claims to be far inferior.

You can pick up a Skydio R1 for $2500. That’s a lot of money for a drone, but much more palatable given you can basically take it out of the box and start filming like a pro with no experience necessary. Plus, you’re probably not going to crash it. Skydio designed this drone with action sports in mind, so expect to see a few buzzing around overhead this winter. Time to up your edit game.

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