Skydio, a California based autonomous drone startup, has finally unveiled its R1 drone at MWC 2018 after working on it for four years. The quadcopter drone capable of shooting in 4K resolution features artificial intelligence which allows it to move around in complex environments on its own.
The Skydio R1 is not an ordinary drone though. It features what Skydio calls an advanced obstacle avoidance system, the Skydio Autonomy Engine. With 12 cameras integrated into the frame of the drone, the R1 views its surrounding in real-time and flies on its own. In fact, Skydio does not even bundle a controller with the drone because of it being completely autonomous.
Now, DJI drones provide obstacle avoidance too, courtesy of what it likes to call FlightAutonomy 2.0. But, according to a report by 9to5Mac, DJI's technology can be termed as semi-autonomous as it still relies on the user to manoeuvre it around.
The Skydio R1 seems to be a step above when it comes to obstacle avoidance, as it is completely autonomous. The user does have the option of controlling the drone (via a smartphone app) manually, but the drone is essentially designed to take care of itself.
As per the report, the drone houses a 256-core Nvidia Jetson TX1 GPU inside which is a processor found in most self-driving cars.
Adam Bry, co-founder of Skydio stated that the drone then uses a combination of deep neural networks to recognise people around it. He explained that the drone knew what people look like and it created a visual identifier for every individual so that it could lock focus on the right subject.
The R1 comes with a number to modes to choose from. It can follow, orbit, film in profile perspective or from high above. It can even fly in front of the user, which sounds ideal for vloggers.
The drone comes with two batteries that provide 16 minutes of flight time each. It also has 64 GB of internal storage for video footage. The R1 drone has been priced at $2,499.