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Skydio’s New R1 Sets a New Bar for Drone Autonomy, But at a High Price

Updated: Feb 24, 2023

Skydio, a California based autonomous drone start-up, has unveiled its R1 drone at Mobile World Conference 2018 after working on it for four years. The quadcopter drone capable of shooting in 4K resolution features artificial intelligence which allows it to move around in complex environments on its own. It features what Skydio calls an advanced obstacle avoidance system, the Skydio Autonomy Engine. With 12 cameras integrated into the frame of the drone, the R1 views its surrounding in real-time and flies on its own. In fact, Skydio does not even bundle a controller with the drone because of it being completely autonomous. DJI drones provide obstacle avoidance too, courtesy of what it likes to call FlightAutonomy 2.0. But, according to a report by 9to5Mac, DJI's technology can be termed as semi-autonomous as it still relies on the user to manoeuvre it around. The Skydio R1 is a step above when it comes to obstacle avoidance, as it is completely autonomous. The user does have the option of controlling the drone (via a smartphone app) manually, but the drone is essentially designed to take care of itself. Starting at around $2,500 the cost of this extra autonomy is, at least initially much more expensive than DJI’s most popular semi-professional drones such as the Phantom 4.

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