Skydio CEO Adam Bry today took to the stage to announce the new Skydio X10 drone, aiming squarely at the wide commercial market, bringing "big drone features to a medium form factor" and building on the company's established lead in the field of AI.
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The new drone boasts a new night vision navigation system, using lighting systems and AI to overcome the longstanding problem of seeing obstacles in the dark. The drone still has GPS, but Skydio's autonomy system's ability to view objects and navigate using them makes it more versatile.
The drone has a triple camera block with a main 50-megapixel camera which can read a licence plate from 800ft (240m) and a 640×512 Teledyne FLIR Boson+ radiometric thermal camera. The drone's AI can use the thermal camera to keep a person in the camera's view automatically, without the use of the pilot's sticks.
The drone is also IP55 weather-resistant – the video shows the drone flying in the rain. The battery time is stated as 40 minutes.
The 85 teraflops of compute power on board, however, is what unleashes the ability for the drone to build a 3D model in the field rather than requiring pilots to shoot on location and then return for processing.
The company made clear that night vision – Skydio are calling it NightSense – was a feature built with the military in mind, which we can take as a clear indicator that there hasn't been a change of heart – there isn't likely to be a replacement for the Skydio 2+ consumer drone. There is a battlefield version for the military, however,
Speed of deployment is also important; Skydio think it can be out of the backpack in 40 seconds. Cellular is an option too, and we're told there will be a dock soon (but X2 and Skydio 2 are still good to go for commercial users).
All this comes days after we've seen the leaks of DJI's similarly sized device which looks to be competing on size and possibly at least some level of smarts. This could be the beginning of a very interesting battle, though of course, Skydio will have US trade regulations on its side in its home market.