Skydio’s AI-powered X2 will take on manually-operated commercial drones
The new Skydio X2 family of enterprise drones will hit the markets in Q4 2020. Here’s what to expect…
What are some of the biggest obstacles enterprises face while starting or scaling an in-house drone program? The need to navigate a steep technical learning curve? The risk of crashing and damaging an expensive device? Shortage of skilled pilots for complex jobs?
US-based drone manufacturer Skydio wants to change all that with the introduction of the new X2 family of drones. Best known for its ‘selfie drones’, the X2 will be Skydio’s first non-consumer device, aimed at businesses, government agencies, first responders, and defense customers. And also, cinematographers!
At the heart of the X2 is Skydio Autonomy, aka an AI-powered brain built into the drone. The technology leverages advanced computer vision and deep learning techniques to help the drone create a 3D understanding of its surroundings in real-time. This allows Skydio drones to make intelligent flying decisions, avoid obstacles in GPS-denied environments, and basically, fly autonomously.
Throwback to when WWD tested Skydio's AI tech navigating through the woods
Adam Bry, co-founder and CEO at Skydio, stresses that conventional manual drones limit the scale and scope of the incredible potential of UAVs. “Enterprises have tasted the value that drones can provide, but are also feeling the pain of conventional manually flown systems,” Bry says. “Deployments of drones are constrained by training time, pilot availability, and the difficulty of performing important tasks like a detailed inspection.”
The X2, Bry insists, will turn anyone into an expert pilot.
Skydio X2 specs and enterprise capabilities
The X2 boasts a ruggedized airframe, folding arms, and up to 35 minutes of flight time. It is equipped with 64k navigation cameras for 360-degree obstacle avoidance and a dual-sensor payload that includes 12MP color and 320x256 LWIR thermal sensors.
You can also look forward to a new enterprise-grade Skydio Enterprise Controller with a built-in touchscreen, glove-compatible controls, and a new wireless system to extend range up to 6.2 kilometers.
And while the drone’s autonomous navigation capabilities can be enjoyed out-of-the-box, Skydio also announced several new software solutions that promise to simplify inspections and situational awareness workflows for a multitude of industries:
Skydio Autonomy Enterprise Foundation
Its powerful pilot-assist capabilities include 360 Superzoom for maximum situational awareness at 360 degrees; Precision Mode for maximum control while performing detailed inspections or getting tactical situational awareness in dense, challenging, GPS-denied environments; and Vertical View to capture images by looking straight up overhead.
Skydio 3D Scan
This is a general-purpose digital scan software designed specifically for inspections of complex industrial structures and locations – bridges, building facades, energy infrastructure, accident and crime scenes, etc. Skydio says that the software can manage obliques and concavities also like a pro, empowering the X2 to inspect areas inaccessible to other drones, such as the bottom of bridges, walls, overhangs, and near-the-ground details. Like this:
Skydio House Scan
This autonomous inspection software has been designed to enable home insurance agents to automatically perform accurate inspections of residential homes safely and without the need to become expert drone pilots.
While Skydio is yet to reveal the price of the X2 family of drones, the new birds are slated to hit the markets in Q4 2020.
Ishveena Singh is a versatile journalist and writer with a passion for drones and location technologies. In the last 12 years, she has worked with both mainstream media organizations (Miami Herald International, Times of India, Microsoft MSN) and dedicated geospatial technology media (Geospatial World, Geoawesomeness).
With a deep understanding of content marketing and social media, Ishveena also helps private companies (DJI, Terra Drone) to generate qualified leads through useful and timely content.