Skydio catches many off guard with the announcement and release of the new Skydio X2.
Skydio is the leading U.S. drone manufacturer and world leader in autonomous flight. Skydio leverages breakthrough AI to create the world’s most intelligent flying machines for use by consumer, enterprise, and government customers. Founded in 2014, Skydio is made up of leading experts in AI, robotics, cameras, and electric vehicles from top companies, research labs, and universities from around the world. Skydio designs,
Skydio X2 is a new family of products that pairs breakthrough autonomy software with a ruggedized airframe with folding arms for easy “pack and go” transportation, a thermal camera, and up to 35 minutes of flight time. X2 is equipped with six 4k navigation cameras for 360-degree obstacle avoidance and a dual sensor payload that includes 12MP color and 320×256 LWIR sensors.
Designed, assembled, and supported in the USA, the X2 turns anyone into an expert pilot. It will initially be available in two configurations:
- Skydio X2D
Built to meet the Short-Range Reconnaissance (SRR) requirements for the U.S. Army, the X2D is the ultimate solution for military and defense to perform reconnaissance, search and rescue, and security patrol missions.
- Skydio X2E
Optimized for enterprises, first responders, and civilian agencies, the X2E is the ideal solution for situational awareness and inspection of infrastructure such as buildings, bridges, power plants, power stations and railyards. Skydio’s autonomous navigation technology makes it safe to fly at close distance to capture more accurate data than traditional manual drones.
Like Skydio 2, X2 drones include the Skydio Autonomy Core, Skydio’s world-leading flight AI engine. Out-of-the-box, X2 users will benefit from autonomous navigation with 360-degree, real-time obstacle avoidance, object detection and motion prediction.
X2 pairs with the new enterprise-grade Skydio Enterprise Controller with a built-in touch screen, glove-compatible controls, and a new wireless system to extend range up to 6.2 kilometers.
The X2 products will be available in Q4 2020
“We have been testing Skydio drones extensively for Search and Rescue missions. Skydio’s autonomy capabilities allowed us to perform better operations, more efficiently. Their trustworthy obstacle avoidance makes it possible for us to do flights at low-altitude and in complex urban environments that we would otherwise not be able to perform. The ease of flight that Skydio drones provide lets us on-board new pilots faster. We are excited to hear about Skydio’s plans with X2 and look forward to adding it to our fleet.”
Senior Program Manager
Small Unmanned Aerial Systems at Civil Air Patrol
Skydio Autonomy Enterprise Foundation
Skydio Autonomy Enterprise Foundation enhances Skydio’s Core Autonomy system with powerful pilot-assist capabilities that make every flight safer and more efficient for everyone from novice to expert operators.
- 360 Superzoom for maximum situational awareness at 360 degrees. Superzoom blends the drone’s seven on-board cameras to let the pilot see in all directions while flying, and provides up to 100x digital zoom with high quality video resolution and electronic image stabilization.
- Precision Mode for maximum control while performing detailed inspections or getting tactical situational awareness in dense, challenging, GPS-denied environments. Skydio’s autonomy engine can be tuned to enable high precision response to controller inputs and to safely fly in close proximity to obstacles (.5 meters). These controls allow operators to fly confidently in tight spaces and to get the job done faster.
- Vertical View to capture images by looking straight up overhead. Combined with Skydio Autonomy’s Obstacle Avoidance technologies, allows users to focus on overhead inspection targets, instead of dedicating their inspection camera to avoiding obstacles.
- Skydio 3D Scan. Autonomous inspection of industrial structures
The first of its kind general-purpose digital scan software for inspections of complex industrial structures and locations, such as bridges, building facades, energy infrastructure, accident and crime scenes, 3D Scan is powered by a new real-time visual 3D reconstruction layer built on top of Skydio Autonomy Enterprise Foundation.
Unlike inspection conducted with manual drones, Skydio 3D Scan enables a fully automated, structure-agnostic process that does not require any prior knowledge of the inspected structure and can operate in GPS-denied environments or without internet connection. Operators can specify the area or volume to inspect, pick a desired imaging resolution, and the AI-powered Skydio 3D Scan does the rest, autonomously imaging all surfaces with precision by dynamically building a real-time map as the drone flies. The resulting imagery has no gaps in captured data, and is optimized to ensure effective photogrammetry.
It is fair to say that the firm has struggled to meet previous self-imposed deadlines, including shipping the Skydio 2 consumer drone. While the February 2018 Skydio R1 was $2,500 and only really sold as a kind of public beta, the current $999 Skydio 2 was announced in October 2019 and is still hard to get hold of, with customers typically having to order from Skydio directly and then wait patiently. It also remains to be seen how the accessories will be packaged – the Skydio 2 drone doesn’t come with key accessories, like the controller, for example.
The X2 also gets the consumer drone’s cinematic skills, which make it pretty much incomparable as an autonomous camera unit. Skydio is pitching it for military use as well as industrial, pointing out that it’s made in America presumably to highlight DJI’s Chinese roots.
It’s a seriously impressive piece of kit, and it’ll be on sale from Q4 this year at a price as yet unannounced.