Finally, it is here! The all-new and vastly improved Skydio 2 drone. The long-awaited successor to the ground-breaking Skydio R1 autonomously-flying drone that was introduced in early 2018. The new Skydio 2 is designed and built right here in the USA and it competes head-on with the DJI Mavic 2 Pro.

DJI Mavic Pro

Let’s look closer at the Skydio 2

Its main camera, which is stabilized by a 3-axis gimbal, shoots 10-bit, 4K 60fps HDR video and 12.3MP stills with its Sony 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor and f/2.8 lens. The Skydio 2 also comes with six (!) additional 4K cameras (three on top and three on the bottom of the aircraft) that enable it to fly autonomously for up to 23 minutes. The new drone is both smaller and lighter than the original R1 and has been completely redesigned. The quadcopter no longer has the ‘ring’ around the outside of the aircraft and has props that are mounted above the arms in the back but below the arms in the front. It seems that Skydio went all out with the new drone design and we cannot wait until we can fly one ourselves. The Skydio 2 starts at $999 and a Controller and a Skydio Beacon (magic wand) can be bought for an additional $149 each. The company also promises to repair or replace your lost or damaged drone for free as long as you fly within their safety guidelines. Designed AND built right here in the USA with ground-breaking features and priced well below the ever-more expensive DJI Mavic 2 Pro… It seems that we finally have some real competition!

New design for the Skydio 2

The Skydio 2 is a completely redesigned drone that has little if any resemblance to the original R1 aircraft. This time around the unmanned aircraft is much smaller, it has about the footprint of a 13″ laptop, and so it should easily fit in any regular backpack.

Perhaps most noticeably the Skydio 2 lost the ‘ring’ on which the navigational cameras were mounted on the original R1. The props are now exposed and the aircraft looks more similar to a modern quadcopter such as the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. The Skydio 2, however, is not foldable.

The propellers are mounted in a very distinct way on the new Skydio 2, presumingly to provide a better view for the six 4K navigational cameras. Three of which are mounted on top of the drone and the other ones at the bottom of the aircraft.

The original R1 was very well designed and built. It did not at all feel like a gen-1 product. We haven’t had a chance to hold or to fly the new Skydio 2 yet, but based on our previous experience and the photos and footage, I would expect the new drone to provide the same high level of quality and craftsmanship.

The battery is mounted below the aircraft and also seems to provide a good grip for hand-launching and landing the unmanned aircraft.

Features

The new Skydio 2 has many distinct and important features. Let quickly run through them.

First of all, the Skydio 2 will make safe drone-flying easy with the help of its autonomous flying capabilities and obstacle avoidance. The new drone can keep its camera focused on you and record your actions while self-flying and avoiding obstacles up to a speed of 36mph. There are six 4K cameras that in combination with the Skydio Autonomy Engine turn this aircraft into a self-flying drone. We expect the Skydio 2 to do an even better job in this respect than the already really impressive R1.

The Skydio 2 comes with a camera that shoots 4K 60fps HDR video and 12.3MP stills with its Sony 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor and f/2.8 lens.

The Skydio 2 has built-in recording features such as Dronie, Rocket, and Cable Cam to make capturing stunning video footage easy.

With a swappable, bottom-mounted battery the Skydio 2 can fly up to 23 minutes.

The Skydio 2 can be flown straight from your smartphone through a WiFi connection for up to 200 meters or roughly 600 feet. However, with the separately sold beacon, the range extends to 1.5km or almost 1 mile. For an even larger action radius of up to 3.5km or 2.2 miles, you would need to the (Parrot Anafi) Controller which is also sold separately.

Skydio promises that the Skydio 2 is “the easiest to fly, least likely to crash drone on the planet” and the Redwood-based company backs their product with an amazing, free warranty: “If you’re operating your Skydio 2 within our Safe Flight guidelines, and it crashes, we’ll repair or replace it for free”. It is, ahem, refreshing to see a company care about their product and customers so much that they include this service for free!

Lastly, the Skydio 2 has been designed and built right here in the USA and thus it should calm any fears you might have of your sensitive data being sent abroad.

“At the heart of Skydio 2 is the NVIDIA Jetson TX2, the fastest, most power-efficient embedded AI computing device available. With 256 GPU cores capable of 1.3 trillion operations a second, Skydio 2 is the flying supercomputer.”

No confirmation yet, but we expect that you will be able to fly the new Skydio 2 from your Apple Watch just like you could with the original R1.

In an article from IEEE Spectrum, Skydio CEO Adam Bry explains the complexity of getting the six 4K, 200-degree fish-eye cameras to work:

“That was a super challenging engineering problem, because we went from these conventional global shutter cameras to rolling shutter fisheye cameras, which are very very challenging from an algorithmic standpoint. But the big advantage is that at a lower price point, we can get much better sensor performance. The simple metric on this is we went from about 3 megapixels of visual sensing on R1, to about 45 megapixels on Skydio 2.”

Pricing and availability

The new Skydio 2 is priced at $999. The optional Controller and Skydio Beacon are sold separately for $149 each. A limited supply of Skydio 2 and accessories are available for delivery in 2019. Customers will be able to reserve a drone from this first production run starting at 10 am PT on October 1 for $100. Shipments are expected to begin in November and all units reserved from this initial run will deliver in time for the holidays.

As a token of appreciation from Skydio, owners of the original R1 will be offered Skydio 2 at a significantly discounted price. The company has said that they will be contacted directly.

Starting right now, you will be able to reserve your Skydio 2 drone on the Skydio website for $100.

What do you think about the Skydio 2? Let us know in the comments below.

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