Flying a drone without the need of learn how to do it? No worries, Skydio 2.0 is here and it claims to do exactly that: It does the flying and filming, you just do whatever it takes to make the resulting footage a lasting impression. Skydio 2.0 is the successor of Skydio R1 (read our coverage here) and it is the result of over 10 years worth of R&D. Is this a serious DJI Mavic 2 competitor?
This is not just a drone. But it can be just that since you still have the freedom of choice whether you want to fully control it or if you want it to take over and fly autonomously. The unique selling point here is the auto-pilot mode, of course. First things first, watch the intro video in order to get a full grasp of what Skydio 2.0 can do for you (note the catchy featured image!):
So you can fly the Skydio just like a normal drone using either a classic handheld controller plus your phone or the new Beacon, a tiny controller without the clutter of a joystick-phone tandem. Each controller extends the range of the Skydio 2.0 in which it can operate and reliably track you. The Beacon allows for a 1.5km range, the fully-fledged controller extend that range to 3.5km (But please bear in mind that you have to obey the law in your country – In Germany you have to maintain a line-of-sight to your drone at all times for example).
Skydio 2.0 Drone – a DJI Mavic 2 Killer?
This drone is being marketed as a DJI competitor, there’s a video on their website which shows a side-by-side comparison of the Skydio 2.0 and a DJI Mavic 2 try to follow a ATV pacing through the woods. As expected (since this is a video by Skydio) the Mavic fails.
If that’s a fair comparison? I don’t know and it is certainly biased. But the point here is: You could perform such a chasing shot with a Mavic 2, no problem but you have to be a very skilled and trained pilot in order to pull it off. If you don’t want to do this full-time, the Skydio 2.0 might be your guy here.
When watching some sample footage, the Skydio sometimes hunts a bit for something to track, loses the subject or keeps track of a face but frames the bike the subject is riding on just to the very edge of the screen. So, there is still potential, but it does look promising, indeed!
Fancy Artificial Intelligence, Tech Specs and no 25 fps
This thing is fully packed with fancy AI algorithms and it is meant to be used without study long manuals and tutorials. But in order to get you up to speed what this this drone can do for you, here are some of the main specifications:
- 223 x 273 x 74 mm (l x w x h)
- 4K video at up to 60 fps in HDR, up to 120 fps slo-mo in HD resolutions
- 12-megapixel (4056 x 3040 jpg or DNG raw) photos in HDR, including interval mode
- Sony IMX577 1/2.3” 12.3MP CMOS sensor
- 20mm (35mm format equivalent) f/2.8 lens
- Records MPEG-4 h.264 / h.265 @ 100Mbps to micro SD Cards (minimum V30 class)
- 3840×2160 30 fps / 3840×2160 60 fps / 3840×2160 48 fps / 3840×2160 24 fps / 1920×1080 120 fps / 1920×1080 60 fps / 1920×1080 30 fps
- 3-axis gimbal with pitch ±124°, roll ±120° & yaw ±12.5°
- Top speed: 36 mph (57.93 km/h), flight time: 23 minutes per battery
These are the facts and one thing left me a bit puzzled: The lack of 25 fps recording. Maybe (hopefully) this is something that will be added once the Skydio 2.0 is available.
This the one big thing which separates the Skydio 2.0 from the rest of the competition. The team behind it put a lot of effort into making this drone really autonomous. The Skydio 2.0 utilizes 6 4K 200° navigation cameras just for scanning, observing and interpreting its environment at all times. 6 times 4K results in roughly 45MP worth of image data just for keeping the drone on track and out of trouble, aka collision.
This data is processed in real time and it results in a 360° always-on 3D map of the environment so it acts as a very sophisticated obstacle avoidance engine. In a nutshell: Skydio 2.0 just works and it won’t crash into things. Let’s hope it can hold that promise.
If you want to adjust the way this AI-driven drone operates a little bit, you can use the Beacon to just drag’n’drop it to wherever you want it to be and start tracking you from that angle. Once you’re satisfied Skydio will track the Beacon and you can do what you do. The so-called Beacon offers an amazingly simple way of operating the drone without the need to operate a clutterd screen full of controls.
For now, Skydio 2.0 can track (multiple) subjects or cars. Maybe more options, like the ability to track animals will surface over time.
Pricing and Availability
The first batch of preorders is already sold out so if you order now, you’ll have to wait until early 2020. Please note that Skydio 2.0 is currently only sold in the US and Canada, but according to their website, they’re planning to extend to other countries soon.
If you choose to purchase the Skydio 2.0, here is what you get:
- Skydio 2.0 Drone
- One battery
- Two additional propellers (one of each type beyond the four required to fly)
- One USB (type C) cable for charging and data transfer plus a wall adapter
- micro-fiber cloth
- Custom-fit hardshell carrying case for transport.
The drone itself is $999 and you need to pay a $100 deposit in order to get in line. The controller and the Beacon is not included in the kit though. You have to pay extra for these items:
- Controller $149
- Beacon $149
- Extra Skydio batteries $99 each
- Extra Skydio propeller sets $24 each
Of course you can control the drone with just your phone and the app but especially the Beacon seems to an interesting way to control the drone and if you want to do more complex jobs with this drone a real controller seems to be mandatory. If you want to order, please make sure to read the FAQ on Skydio’s website for all the details.
What do you think? Might this be a worthy DJI competitor? Do you have experiences with the previous model , the Skydio R1? Share your thoughts in the comments below!