Skydio, the largest US consumer/enterprise drone manufacturer – and the leader of the pack with autonomous skills – is continuing its push to become a global force. Now, enterprise and public sector customers in Australia and New Zealand can start buying – and flying – Skydio products.
The announcement is the latest part of a carefully plotted Asia-Pacific expansion path. In Q4 of 2020, the company opened its Japan office. Now, it’s opening the doors in Australia and New Zealand, with Richard Hall serving as country manager for ANZ and James Finch as head of solution engineering. Initially, the focus will be on enterprise and public sector customers.
But it’s clear: The company is firmly planting the Skydio flag as part of wider expansion plans.
Skydio 2, Skydio 2X, software
The Skydio 2 is available immediately for order by enterprise and public sector customers in those countries, with the beefed-up Skydio X2 available for pre-order; shipping on that product will commence in Q3.
But the drones themselves – while laden with AI and autonomous skills – are only part of Skydio’s offerings. What truly unlocks the extended abilities of these products and further differentiates Skydio is the company’s growing suite of fully integrated software solutions.
We wrote, earlier this week, about Skydio Cloud, which offers fleet management, wireless and secure media sync, with more capabilities en route. It comes on the heels of 3D Scan, exceedingly powerful software that leverages the AI and obstacle avoidance skills of Skydio drones to carry out scans of highly complex structures (bridges, for example), that are very difficult for many other drones. That’s because these drones can truly see and understand their environments.
Neural networks and specialized algorithms even allow these drones to make predictions about what’s coming next and act on those predictions. That’s one of the key reasons these drones can track a moving subject so well. This Skydio GIF shows how these drones continuously map their environments:
Skydio says products will fill a need in Australia, New Zealand
Australia-New Zealand country manager Richard Hall says a vacuum for products like this has existed until now in this region – and Skydio will fill that void:
So far, the market has been dominated by manual products that are labour intensive and difficult to operate. There is a clear demand for smarter drones that are easier to use, deliver real automation and come from trustworthy providers. Skydio’s autonomous drones and advanced integrated software respond to this need unlocking the massive untapped potential of drones. I look forward to working with Enterprise and Public Sector customers in Australia and New Zealand to introduce Skydio’s AI-powered autonomous drones to their fleets.
More on the software
Skydio Cloud is but one of a growing number of software offerings, all purpose-built to take full advantage of the advanced capabilities of Skydio products. It’s also clearly a significant part of the company’s business plan to lease this software to enterprise and first responder customers. 3D Scan’s capabilities, at least in the US, cost $2,999 per year, per drone. Skydio says early beta testers reported they quickly covered that expense through increased efficiencies.
Here’s a graphic, which came from a Skydio webinar earlier this week, that outlines the architecture, and how additional functions and features are unlocked by these various software packages:
Here’s an overview, taken directly from the release, that provides more details of each offering:
Skydio Autonomy Enterprise Foundation.
“Unlocks advanced capabilities for maximum situational awareness, ultra-precise control when navigating dense environments and close-proximity inspection of assets and scenes. Key features include: 360 Superzoom provides a unique 360° live view of the surroundings of the drone; Precision Mode tunes the system for ultra-precise positioning based on joystick inputs; Close Proximity Obstacle Avoidance enables flight as close as 4” away from obstacles with the confidence of full avoidance; Vertical View enables superior image capture for complex inspections by pointing the gimbal straight up overhead.”
Skydio 3D Scan
“A revolutionary technology that ushers a new age of autonomous inspection. 3D Scan is a first-of-its-kind adaptive scanning software built on top of Skydio Autonomy that allows professional drone operators to fully automate the image capture process needed to generate detailed datasets and complex 3D models with comprehensive coverage and sub-millimeter resolution. Thanks to the AI-driven workflow and robotic precision, 3D Scan enables fundamentally faster and higher quality inspections of complex industrial structures and locations, such as bridges, building facades, energy infrastructure, accident and crime scenes, all with minimal pilot training.”
“Enables a new paradigm of autonomous connected flight operations by seamlessly and securely integrating Skydio drones with a suite of advanced cloud services. Skydio Cloud runs on AWS – U.S. Region cloud infrastructure and includes the following services: Skydio Fleet Manager for federated management for distributed drone operations; Skydio Media Sync for seamless upload and management of flight media; Skydio Streaming (coming soon) for real-time video aerial intelligence from any browser or mobile device; Skydio Remote Ops (coming soon) for groundbreaking teleoperation with the obstacle avoidance of Skydio Autonomy. Skydio Cloud enables drone-captured data to flow through the organization thanks to a set of robust APIs that allow direct integration with enterprise business systems for end-to-end management of flight operations, data analysis and security compliance.”
We’ve written previously about some of the strategic partnerships Skydio has forged. One of the most recent was with Axon, makers of the body cams worn by police officers and also the manufacturers of the Taser.
Axon has its own evidence management software suite for police, and integration is underway to have data captured by police via Skydio products to be uploaded directly and securely into Axon’s evidence software. This partnership appears to be a global one; Axon’s senior managing director of Asia Pacific, Nathan Sawtell, sees opportunity in these new markets:
We are excited to partner with Skydio to bring US-Manufactured, AI-Powered Autonomous Drones to Public Safety across Australia and New Zealand. Skydio is leading the way in the next-generation of autonomous drones that will allow first responders to more efficiently gain valuable aerial intelligence when responding to emergencies. With the upcoming integration with Axon’s solutions, Skydio drone-captured imagery will be easily manageable and shareable for agencies, and live alongside corresponding body camera video in Axon’s digital evidence management platform, Axon Evidence.
Skydio’s approach – and we’ve been watching every development for quite some time now – strikes us as very methodical. This phase in the company’s growth began with the Skydio 2, followed by the unveiling of the X2 series (one model for enterprise, one for defense).
With the recent release of the impressive 3D Scan software and offerings like Skydio Cloud, you get the sense this is only the beginning. The complete news release, if you’re interested, is available here.
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