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MIT Engineers Made Skydio R1, A Fully Autonomous Camera Drone

“The smartest flying 4K camera you ever tried” – this is how a team of engineering graduates from MIT are proudly calling their R1 camera drone. Is there any truth to it? Let’s see! #actionmagic

In the last four years, a startup called Skydio was focused on enabling their drone to do something most of its counterparts are not ready yet to do – fly autonomously. Sure, some UAVs like Mavic Air have been granted the power to see amd avoid obstacles but it still needs to be assisted in doing so. Controllers are always part of the package, impliying that human pilots are needed at all times.

Skydio R1, though, is launching without them. Users just have to wake it up from a mobile app (available for iOS, as well as Android) and tap on their smartphone the destination or who to follow.

No less than 13 cameras are used to map the environment accurately and an Nvidia Jetson AI chip, which is usually used in driverless cars. In fact, the inspiration came from this field, although the founders did have to solve the small “issue” of a lack of structure (like roads) and the radically different motion of flying.

They came out victorious though, ready to present to the whole world a really autonomous drone, capable of predicting the target’s movements and adjust its direction accordingly. Skydio R1 flies up to 25mph for up to 16 minutes on a charge and shoots in 4K@30fps or 1080p@60fps.

Users can experiment with the drone in eight different modes, with other cinematic options on the pipeline.

Of course, the price is on par with the drone’s feat – taking obstacle avoidance to a different level. R1 is, therefore, going for $2,499 on their official website.

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