Skydio 2

Skydio 2

12MP, 1/2.3” CMOS sensor | Fully autonomous flight | 4K/60p video

What we like:

  • Excellent subject tracking
  • Autonomous operation with obstacle avoidance
  • 4K/60p 'HDR' video

What we don't:

  • Does not fold for travel
  • Controller and Beacon cost extra
[Editor’s note: The Skydio 2 is currently available for pre-order, but the manufacturer states that orders placed now will not ship until the second quarter of 2020.] The second drone released from Redwood City, California-based manufacturer Skydio is significantly smaller and less expensive than its discontinued predecessor, the R1. While not foldable, it's compact enough to fit in a backpack for easy and convenient travel. Skydio has been pitching its latest offering to professionals as well, even integrating DroneDeploy's mapping software. However, it’s most suitable for enthusiasts looking to take advantage of its autonomous operation, allowing content creaqtors to throw it up in the air so it can follow them while dodging obstacles along the way.
The Skydio 2 reaches a maximum autonomous speed of 58 km/h (36 mph) and can remain in the air for up to 23 minutes. Using 45MP of visual sensing from six 200° fisheye color cameras, the drone can detect obstacles in every direction and avoid them. Also onboard is an NVIDIA Jetson TX2, the fastest, most efficient AI available that also powers autonomous cars. 256 GPU cores capable of 1.3 trillion operations a second make up the basis of Skydio 2’s foundation for effective autonomous flight.
If you're the type looking for a drone that can follow you as you run, ride, surf or do any other adventure sports the Skydio 2 should be on your shortlist.
Skydio has improved the quality of its onboard camera, compared to the R1. The 12MP camera, which uses a 20mm equivalent F2.8 lens, is mounted on a 3-axis gimbal and captures DNG Raw images. It’s built around Sony's IMX577 1/2.3” CMOS sensor with Qualcomm’s RedDragon™ QSC605 technology, which can capture HDR photos in a range of shooting options including single and interval. HDR Video can be captured up to 4K/60p and 1080p/120p using the H.264, or H.265 codec at a bitrate of 100Mbps.
There are three ways to fly the Skydio 2. The Beacon (an additional $149) will extend communication range up to roughly 1 mile (1.5 km) and enable the drone to follow you through obstacles, even when it can't see you. You can use the Beacon's drag and drop controls to reposition the drone in the sky and access modes including Dronie, Rocket, and Orbit for smooth, cinematic shots.
The drone can also be controlled via smartphone with the Android or iOS app. You can access AI modes, including the ones mentioned above, along with Cable Cam and Sport mode. Photos and video clips can be downloaded and saved directly to the phone for instant sharing. The remote control, also an additional $149, extends the range to over 2 miles (3.5 km) and is ideal for those who want to manually maneuver the drone with joysticks.
If you're the type looking for a drone that can follow you as you run, ride, surf or do any other adventure sports, the Skydio 2 should be on your shortlist. The built-in AI and six strategically-placed onboard cameras allow it to fly around obstacles, through forests, and other highly congested areas with ease all while tracking a designated subject. Just don’t expect this drone to arrive in time for the Holidays in 2019 as the second batch of pre-orders is sold out with a third batch expected to arrive on doorsteps by the second quarter of 2020.