Skydio is an American drone manufacturing company founded in 2014 by three MIT graduates. Skydio is known throughout the drone industry for its autonomous drones that can seemingly fly on their own with very little input from the pilot. The company has recently partnered with photogrammetry leader Bentley Systems to market its 3D scan technology. Skydio, whose drones have been largely termed as ‘self-flying’, has also begun shipping its long-awaited X2 model. Here is all you need to know about America’s leading drone manufacturer:
Autonomous Drone Technology 12 Years in the Making
Although the company was started in 2014, the three founders Adam Bry, Abraham Bachrach, and Matt Donahoe, began developing autonomous drone technology way back in 2009. Soon after graduating from MIT, the three helped start Google’s Project Wing. Google Wing is an autonomous drone delivery project which later on gave rise to an offshoot drone delivery company known as Alphabet. However, after working on the Wing Project, the three MIT graduates founded Skydio in 2014, with the R1 drone as its first commercially available drone.
The R1 became largely popular due to its autonomous functionality and ease of use. The company received a total funding of $340 million and is currently valued at over $1 billion. Skydio also rose in popularity due to the blacklisting of DJI in America, which is the leading drone manufacturer in the world.
Products Offered by Skydio
Skydio primarily has three products:
- Skydio 2
- Skydio X2
- Skydio 3D Scan
The Skydio 2 and X2 are consumer and enterprise drones respectively. However, both drones pack some impressive specifications.
Skydio 2 is a quadcopter launched by the company in 2019. The drone comes equipped with a 12.3-megapixel 1/2.3-inch Sony camera with a 20mm equivalent f/2.8 lens that can capture 100 Mbps 4K footage. It has a superior obstacle avoidance system and a follow mode in which the drone can seamlessly follow a subject even through an obstacle riddled environment. The drone is 50% quieter from its predecessor, has a battery life of 23 minutes, and a transmission range of up to 3.5 km.
The Skydio 2 retails at $1,349 and can be ordered on their website. To learn more visit Skydio’s website here.
The X2 is Skydio’s latest enterprise solution. It is a ruggedized drone combined with the advanced autonomy similar to the Skydio 2. The X2 has 360° obstacle avoidance. Pilots have the option of installing multiple payloads such as the 4K60P HDR color camera, or a thermal payload. Additionally, the drone is equipped with strobe lights and GPS Night Flight for operations in the dark. The X2 has a transmission range of 6km (5GHz) or 10km (1.8GHz), and a flight time of 35 minutes.
The Skydio X2 starts at $10,999 per system (including the controller) and can be ordered on their website. To learn more visit Skydio’s website here.
Skydio 3D Scan
The 3D Scan is Skydio’s photogrammetry solution offered as a service. It combines the situational awareness of its drones and first-of-its-kind adaptive scanning software to create accurate 3D models of inspection sites, properties, and complex structures.
“3D Scan’s Adaptive Mapping iteratively builds a global map of complex surfaces using contour-hugging motion planning, reducing the need for pilots to plan photogrammetry capture flights by hand or settle for rudimentary automation”
Learn more about the service on Skydio’s website.
Since the United States has blacklisted the Chinese manufacturer DJI, Skydio’s drones have emerged as a worthy rival that offers above-par autonomous functionality. Another aspect that sets the company aside from its competitors is that its drones can be flown by pilots of all skillsets. Both the Skydio 2 and X2 have obstacle avoidance modes that make it extremely hard to crash the drone. DJI drones have been an industry standard for over a decade, but that trend could be changing now.