Drone maker Skydio, the biggest US-based drone company known for its smart autonomous drones, recently switched focus onto its strong commercial and growing military business – now it looks like we might see the tech that'll drive it, and the invitations aren't as exclusive as expected.
• Read what we thought caused Skydio to leave the consumer market
Skydio are inviting everyone to a live keynote at an event called Ascent on September 20th at 9:00 Pacific time (12PM EDT, 5PM BST, 2AM AEST). I've signed up and you can register for the live keynote on my ticket if you want to follow online, though this is an external link – you'd have to give your email address to Skydio.
Speakers will include Adam Bray, the CEO, Chief John Chell of the NYPD, Bob Brock, the Director of Aviation at the Kansas Department of Transport, but if we're honest, the most interesting thing is the teaser.
At the moment, the company is still offering the Skydio 2+ (though only in the Enterprise edition) and the more rugged-looking Skydio X2 which boasts lights for night operations, and a thermal camera, but retains the company's all-round obstacle avoidance and AI. Both drones, in other words, can use their all-round vision rather than GPS to fly, so work largely autonomously indoors and out.
What's especially interesting about this invitation is that neither of these drones look quite like the one in the teaser silhouette which appears on the sign, so perhaps we're about to see a new form factor? There appear to be two cameras on the humps of the fuselage which aren't in the same position as the AI cameras or the main cameras on Skydio's existing aircraft which is very interesting.
Skydio, of course, has told us only "This isn’t going to be your average drone event. Ascend is the drone event of the year. At Ascend you'll witness the benefits of combining the world's most intelligent flight software with the data-collecting capabilities enabled by the latest in precision-engineered hardware."
Nothing definite, for sure, but the words 'latest' and 'hardware' near each other are hard to ignore, and even if you're not looking to spend on hardware this will no doubt be an important event for American drone operators who work with government agencies to learn more about the capabilities of non-Chinese drones.
You can learn more about the Skydio 2+ drone in our review, or if you're looking for a more consumer-friendly alternative consider our guide to the best camera drones. Skydio don't have it all their own way in the thermal world either, as our guide to the best thermal drones reveals.