Skydio‘s user conference, Ascend, takes place today in San Francisco: and the company made an all out push to have the drone community tune in to the keynote to hear CEO Adam Bry announce their latest platform, the Skydio X10.
Continue reading below, or listen:
“Our goal is to make the world more productive, creative, and safe,” said CEO Adam Bry. “We started 10 years ago…. thanks to you all, this mission is coming to life.”
“At this point Skydio serves over 1500 organizations… and we’ve delivered more than 40,000 drones.”
Despite those numbers, Bry said that he believes enterprise drones are still only at the beginning of maturity curve. “Of all the instances when drones could be useful… how often is there actually a drone there capturing that data?” Bry asks.
Skydio’s Big Product Announcement: Skydio X10
Skydio’s vision for technology maturity and industry scale is displayed in the features of the Skydio X10: the company’s solution to the problem of balancing hardware features with autonomy and US-manufacturing.
“Traditionally, it’s been all about the drone hardware,” Bry said, acknowledging that Chinese drone manufacturing has dominated the hardware space to date.
“We haven’t yet been able to go toe to toe with everything coming out of China,” said Bry. “But hardware isn’t the only dimension…. there is also AI and autonomy.” Bry points out that to date, users have had to make compromises between the best hardware and the best AI and autonomy platforms, functionality and size, and Chinese or US-based manufacturing. With the X10, Skydio has made big strides towards providing the best of all worlds.
Best Sensors on a Mid-Size Drone
When it comes to hardware, sensor packages are foundational to functionality. Skydio X10 offers the FLIR Boson +, a precise radiometric thermal sensor. “This is the best thermal camera ever on a drone this size,” said Bry.
Out of the box, the X10 offers two replaceable and removeable sensor packages: offering the perfect functionality for inspection or drone as first responder missions.The VT300-Z offers a narrow camera, telephoto camera, and radiometric thermal sensor; the VT300-L offers a narrow camera, 1″ camera, radiometric thermal sensor and flashlight. “We’re not done,” said Bry. “You can expect to see more sensor packages.”
At the keynote, Skydio offered comparisons to other similarly sized commercial off the shelf (COTS) drones. With the telephoto camera, the X10 was able to zoom in on a license plate while in flight – getting a clear and easy read. Against similarly sized drones, the accuracy is unmatched. The DJI Matrice offers a similar result, but at more than twice the weight.
The Skydio X10 airframe has been ruggedized for a more versatile workset. At 4.5 pounds, the X10 is small enough to be backpack portable. The IP55 rating, 40 minute flight time, and modular payload bays make the aircraft appropriate for a wide variety of operations.
“Connectivity is another area where we’ve made major investments,” said Bry. The X10 offers a suite of connectivity options, to allow seamless connectivity no matter what type of operation. The improved link between controller and drone strengthens connectivity in cluttered environments; 5G cellular modem is designed to enable remote operations.
“We’ve doubled down on autonomy,” said Bry. Skydio has always been known for its autonomy platform, reducing the cognitive load on pilots with computer vision obstacle avoidance.
The Skydio X10 offers a fundamental upgrade, making the drone into a flying super computer. The vastly increased compute power is combined with new custom onboard cameras: better sensor resolution means being able to detect and avoid much smaller objects, faster. In addition, Skydio Night Sense – vision-based navigation and obstacle avoidance in the dark – is a major new feature.
Beyond obstacle avoidance, the compute power enables Skydio to layer AI-based applications on top of the navigation. They’ve started with 3D Scan, which allows the drone to automatically create a flight path around and asset; and onboard modeling, for quick processing on site. In the future, Skydio teases the ability to capture an automated shot list of assets.
The Skydio X10 – and the military-grade model, the Skydio X10D – do represent more than just an upgrade from previous models. Thermal imaging, upgraded sensors and a more versatile airframe give Skydio’s latest offering a competitive feature package on top of their leading autonomy platform and the benefits of US-manufacturing and Blue sUAS certification.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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