The brand-new Skydio 2 drone that was announced a few weeks ago is supposed to have an amazing warranty. Unlike other drones companies, Skydio will replace or repair your drone for free if it crashes. But as always, there is some fine print. I read it, so you don’t have to. I also got in touch with Skydio to clarify some of the details. Let’s see just how good this warranty really is. Spoiler alert: Don’t sell your Mavic just yet!

Sony a6500

A one-year warranty

The teaser on the Skydio homepage is quite enticing.

And we stand behind Skydio 2 with a simple promise: If you’re operating your Skydio 2 within our Safe Flight guidelines, and it crashes, we’ll repair or replace it for free. It’s that simple.

It is almost that simple — that offer is only good for one year. The very responsive help at Skydio cleared up any confusion in a written response.

… Just to be clear our warranty is for one year and does not extend beyond that. We will continue to support our customers with repairs and replacements after the warranty for reasonable prices…

At least it sounds like repairs after one year will not break the bank. Skydio appears to be more dedicated to customer support than any of the other big names in drones, so I’m hopeful that they will provide some leeway in their policies and offer really good support overall. But what about those “Safe Flight Guidelines?”

Skydio 2 warranty

What are the Safe Flight Guidelines?

At the time of publishing this article, Skydio still has not released what their “Safe Flight Guidelines” for the Skydio 2 actually are. My Skydio helpdesk contact, John, confirmed that the Guidelines are not yet published.

We will release more material as we prepare to ship out the first drones.

Luckily, we can get a good idea of what the guidelines will be from the information we find on the Skydio website, and from the Guidelines for the Skydio R1, Skydio’s first autonomous drone.

Skydio 2 at night — fly at your own risk

In my opinion, the biggest limitation on the Skydio 2 is that it likely won’t be covered if you fly it at night or during twilight. This does actually make some sense — the world’s best autonomous flier can’t avoid what it can’t see. The Skydio app will give warnings when it thinks the lighting is insufficient for safe flight. This definitely hurts, since often the best lighting is around sunset, when shadows may throw off the Skydio’s obstacle avoidance.

Skydio wants you to only fly with really good lighting — just not too good. A bright sun near the horizon can also cause the drone’s performance to lag.

 

Watch out for glass and gloss

Skydio warns that reflections confuse their obstacle avoidance. Some of the most frequently encountered reflective surfaces outside are glass-covered builds and small bodies of water on a windless day. Will they honor the Skydio 2 warranty if your drone drifts into a skyscraper in broad daylight? Time will tell.

Given Skydio’s promotional videos, they do seem to encourage flights over water. When you do fly over water, make sure you have a strong GPS signal to help keep your drone out of the drink.

Branches and power lines

When Skydio is taking off or landing, obstacle avoidance is not on.

I’ll let Skydio speak for themselves on this one:

Be extra careful when flying in environments that contain thin branches, telephone or power lines, ropes, netting, wires, chainlink fencing, transparent surfaces like windows, or reflective surfaces like mirrors.

With three cameras always able to see any obstacle, the Skydio 2 is bound to outperform the original R1. Even with improved cameras and algorithms, it seems thin structures are still an Achilles heel for the Skydio 2, and flying recklessly near them may void your warranty.

Takeoff and landing limitations

The following was taken from one of Skydio’s posts about safe flying:

When launching from the ground, Skydio 2 should have at least 20 feet of clearance in every direction (including above), meaning the launch area should be clear and free of obstacles.

This seemed like an onerous requirement, so I again inquired with Skydio. My friend John at Skydio replied to my question regarding the 20-foot radius.

It’s to be extra safe. When Skydio is taking off or landing, obstacle avoidance is not on. So we ask for you to really make sure that there is enough space for it. Mostly above.

So we will see what is in the official Safety Guideline, but I sure hope my Skydio 2 is covered if I take it off when there is an object that’s 10 feet away instead of the recommended 20. My guess is that Skydio would see a crash in this instance as an algorithm problem, not user error.

Skydio 2 Safety Tips

Just some of the guidance summarized in a graphic from Skydio

Other ways to void your Skydio 2 warranty

Here are some other things to avoid, according to Skydio. It is not yet clear if all of these will void your warranty, or if only some of them are true violations.

  • Dirty cameras (Remember: Skydio can review your log files and can see if your cameras were dirty or damaged)
  • Falling snow
  • Fog
  • Rain (duh)
  • High wind
  • Flying toward the sun
  • Tight spaces indoors
  • Using “Car Follow” on public roads

Keep your Mavic 2 — if nothing else, for night flights

The Skydio night-flight limitation is probably the most concerning for me. I can get some great pictures with my Mavic 2 Pro at twilight and even at night. I will not be flying my new Skydio at night, however.

I think that the Skydio 2 will become an invaluable part of my kit and I am super-pumped for my new drone to arrive. That said, I don’t think it will replace any of the drones I already have. Depending on your needs, the Mavic and Phantom series drones are definitely still worth considering as your workhorse drone.

DJI Mavic 3 rumored to be released by the end of January 2020

The Mavic 3 looks to be the Mavic 2, but with important improvements.

Disclaimer regarding the Skydio 2 warranty

Notice to the reader: Skydio has not yet released its Safe Flight Guidelines for the Skydio 2. The warranty and guidelines are subject to change. This is not legal advice; refer to Skydio.com and Skydio help for official guidance. The following pages are some of the most relevant at the time of publishing this article.

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