California-based company Skydio has announced the R1, a drone described as a “self-flying camera” that autonomously follows and records a subject. Unlike some competing models, R1 was built specifically for autonomous flight; it is able to fly itself at up to 25mph / 40kph while maneuvering around obstacles thanks in part to Skydio’s Autonomy Engine.
While many drones depend on GPS for autonomous flight, Skydio’s R1 is different—it features 13 cameras that work with the Autonomy Engine to perceive and map the world around the UAV. Skydio packed an NVIDIA Jetson AI supercomputer into R1, and the little drone is using it to power intelligent features like real-time movement planning and complex environment navigation.
Here’s a quick intro video that explains how it’s all done:
Users launch the drone in either Side, Follow, or Orbit modes using the companion mobile app. No manual operation is necessary, and in fact, Skydio claims that users can move through complex environments, such as dense woods, without interrupting the R1’s tracking and recording abilities. Skydio goes so far as to claim R1 is “the most advanced autonomous device—of any kind—available today.”
Skydio goes so far as to claim R1 is “the most advanced autonomous device—of any kind—available today.”
The R1, which is small enough to fit in a backpack, is made with carbon fiber and lightweight aluminum. The drone’s primary camera can record subjects at Full HD/30/60fps and 4K/30fps with a 150-degree FOV. The primary camera is isolated from vibrations, stabilized with a 3-axis gimbal, and joined by 64GB of onboard storage. The remaining 12 cameras provide omnidirectional vision for navigation.