Skydio, the US manufacturer behind the hugely impressive R1 drone, has announced a software update that will expand their flagship product’s capabilities. The most notable part of the update is a new feature that allows the R1 to track and follow vehices.
Skdyio says the new mode is “perfect for capturing all of the action on your next adventure, from off-road 4x4ing, autocross racing, to following your golf cart on the course.”
The R1’s hardware includes a vision system made up of 13 exterior cameras and the same NVIDIA Jetson chip most commonly used in self-driving vehicles. For that reason, this is only the beginning of the updates that will bring new features to the platform.
“With Skydio R1, cinematography becomes a software defined experience,” says Adam Bry, Skydio CEO and co-founder.
“That means we can regularly introduce fundamentally new capabilities over time for all existing and future users. The new cinematic modes, including Car Follow, improved Lead Mode, and other improvements throughout the system, are just the first of many software updates for R1 that will unlock new features, built on top of the Skydio Autonomy Engine.”
The Skydio Autonomy Engine uses those 13 cameras to build a picture of the world and understand its position in real time. The aim (and one that’s so far been met to an extent – is for the R1’s ‘pilot’ to be able to capture footage that once required a Hollywood film crew.
The word ‘pilot’ is used loosely here, because really there’s no great need to be behind the controls. In many ways this drone is developing into everything GoPro should have brought to the market.
Powered by NVIDIA Jetson, a powerful AI supercomputer, R1 runs neural networks that can identify subjects to film. Skydio R1’s new Car Follow feature is the result of training these networks on large datasets of labeled images of automobiles.
Car follow, says the Skydio team, “opens up completely new use cases for Skydio R1, making it an even more versatile storytelling tool. It is perfect for autonomously capturing automotive adventures that happen off of public roadways.”
That last part is pretty important – we’re not sure local authorities or the FAA would be happy to see the R1 following you down a public highway.
In summary, the R1’s new features include:
● 4 new cinematic modes, including: Quarter Lead, Quarter Follow, Car Follow, Car Tripod
● Improved lead mode: we’ve further optimized the Skydio Autonomy Engine’s prediction system
for more intelligent behavior around obstacles.
● Updated landing experience: R1 now shows the user exactly where it is going to land.
● Improved UI allowing for easier selection of cinematic modes
Convinced? The R1 is available at www.skydio.com for $2499 USD.