Drones continue to conquer several industries, replacing the need for manual arduous labour. They aren’t only limited to industry usage but have been made available to general consumers at an affordable cost. Drones, as per their standard signature, are four rotored and add up to quite a weight. Excluding nano and leisure drones, the ones used for photography, videography or surveying, are hefty UAVs and using them non-commercially or when travelling becomes a strenuous task. The size of the drone itself adds onto much of the inconvenience. Skydio is an autonomous camera drone which is extremely compact and is made for the sole purpose of unhindered personal usage. Designed, keeping in mind the challenges faced by standard quadcopters, Skydio is completely autonomous and requires minimalistic user controls. The controls are intuitive and easy to adjust to.

It can also be said that Skydio is one of the most technologically advanced autonomous UAV. The camera apparatus of the Skydio sets it apart from similar drones. Skydio uses a special set of cameras combined with artificial intelligence, computer vision and advanced robotics which guide the drone. It has a total of thirteen cameras placed at all sides of the drones which enable Skydio to see in all directions at the same time.

The thirteen cameras in the Skydio R1.

This drone is powered by NVIDIA Jetson, a 256 core AI supercomputer. NVIDIA is an established maker of the most powerful computing technologies on the planet and the Jetson is no less. With an NVIDIA GPU, it also houses a robust 64-bit ARM CPU and 4GB of RAM. Clubbing together all the computing hardware, this drone becomes extremely spontaneous and versatile. Skydio uses a technology called SLAM (Simultaneous Localization And Mapping) which creates a 3D map of the drone’s surrounding and updates the map every second while the drone moves. All of this happens while the drone tracks the subject.

Skydio uses deep learning as a tool to differentiate its surroundings and track the subjects more efficiently and because this drone keeps learning, its performance and capabilities enhance over time. All these tools help Skydio to analyze its flight path, making it easier for it to manoeuvre through obstacles.

Raw image shows the drone’s 3D mapping and active tracking technology.

This drone does not lack behind in terms of design. It has a sleek and slim anodized aluminium frame body which not only cuts on the weight but also plays a major role in keeping it cool. The aluminium frame helps to dissipate heat generated from processing vast amounts of data. Apart from the aluminium frame, the rotors are guarded by carbon fiber rotor guards which are critical for the safety and rampant performance of the drone. The drone weighs 2.2 lbs or 1 kilogram and is easy to fit inside a regular backpack.

Skydio has a lightweight chassis and a sleek design.

The camera specifications of the Skydio are as impressive as the technology and design used in it. It has a camera sporting a Sony IMX377 — 1/2.3″ sensor which can capture exceptional images. This drone can also take videos at 4K at 30fps and 1080p videos at 30 and 60 fps respectively. It has a brilliant 150° Field of View (FOV) with 2-axis mechanical gimbal and 1-axis flight control stabilization. It also includes a 64GB onboard storage which further increases the feasibility greatly.

Skydio is also coupled with a wide array of sensors. Apart from the twelve omnidirectional cameras and the main video camera, it has four additional IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) sensors and a barometer. It can stream live video at 720p at 15fps with Wi-Fi connectivity of 300ft.

With jaw-dropping features, high-end cameras and the latest technology, Skydio is also faced with challenges. The only downside of this drone is its battery life. Housing so many computing devices cut down the battery life largely. This drone can fly for a maximum of 16 minutes at 25 mph but what it offers within those 16 minutes is par with the industry grade up-sized photography drones.

Have a look at Skydio R1, the drone of the future: