The Skydio R1 is being marketed by the company as ‘the first self-flying camera’ and, well, they’re not fibbing. But the R1 is so much more than just a smart camera with wings.
The R1 is, in fact, the most advanced tracking and navigation technology ever installed in a commercial drone, and it changes the way that shoppers will view the consumer drone market. It’s the ultimate selfie-cam, following you while recording your every movement from an aerial view. And, the R1 is a far cry from the wobbly prototype that was displayed by Skydio in a video nearly two years ago.
So how does the R1 do it?
For one, with a brilliant team of humans which includes three MIT graduate students behind its engineering. While at MIT, Adam Bry, Abe Bachrach, and Matt Donahoe – the founders of Skydio – worked to perfect high-speed autonomous flight before moving on and founding Project Wing for what was then known as Google X. Their experience in Boston and Silicon Valley has informed the sleek R1, for which there is currently no competition on the consumer market.
The R1 relies upon rapid-functioning navigation cameras to spot and avoid obstacles, even in dense environments. 13 on-board cameras continuously scan surroundings, looking side-to-side as well as up and down while also tracking the user and recording their movements in beautiful 4k HD video. This ability to navigate in previously un-encountered, obstacle-laden environments while also recording is the primary differentiator between the R1 and other autonomous drones.
The cameras rely upon the user’s path to predict the drone’s next movements, simultaneously scanning their surroundings to plan a flight trajectory which accounts for objects that must be avoided. Even when the user engages its manual mode, the R1 will assist them in avoiding objects that could damage this precious drone-camera.
Drone heads have marveled at the R1’s navigation abilities, pointing out that drones that might qualify as ‘competition’ for the R1 don’t come close to its bobbing and weaving through complex environments in pursuit of the perfect continuous shot. And, for a cool $2,500 investment, you could have this bad boy all to yourself.