Skydio is leveraging the power of what it calls “the most advanced AI device ever shipped” to make its enterprise-grade X2 drone a nigh-on uncrashable machine with some pretty amazing autonomous 3D point-mapping capabilities.
Like the extremely impressive consumer-grade Skydio 2, the X2 uses no less than seven onboard 4K cameras, in conjunction with the deep learning capabilities of an nVidia Tegra X2 AI chip, to constantly build a 3D point map of everything around it as it flies, predicting the paths of moving objects and allowing it to plot a safe course through crowded environments where DJI’s much cruder obstacle avoidance systems simply give up.
Where the US$999 Skydio 2 is built for fun, the X2 is built to work. As such it uses a carbon sandwich frame with foldable tubular carbon arms that should allow for easy replacement. It packs a 35-minute brick of a battery, paying little attention to looking sexy, and offers a 6.2-km (3.8-mi) control range.
Like many industrial drones, it carries a FLIR infra-red camera for night vision, in addition to its main 12-MP video camera. In this case, it’s a relatively high-definition 320 x 256 LWIR sensor offering four times the resolution of the night vision on the Mavic 2 Enterprise, with vision boosted by both visible and infrared lights.
The X2’s video works in rather wacky ways as well, combining the output from all its seven cameras into a single 360-degree feed. This offers the ability to zoom all the way out to a monstrous 360-degree live view, or zoom right in up to 100x in any direction for a highly detailed look at whatever catches your interest.
In terms of aerial inspection tasks, the X2 has some pretty extraordinary capabilities. Draw a box around a house, a bridge or any other object to be scanned, and it’ll autonomously fly around it, building and refining a 3D point scan of the structure as it deftly dodges obstacles and flies through tight gaps to get itself the view it needs. Interestingly, a lot of this stuff can be done by the Skydio 2 as well, as shown in the video below.
Introducing Skydio 3D Scan™
The X2 also gets the consumer drone’s cinematic skills, which make it pretty much incomparable as an autonomous camera unit. Skydio is pitching it for military use as well as industrial, pointing out that it’s made in America presumably to highlight DJI’s Chinese roots.
It’s a seriously impressive piece of kit, and it’ll be on sale from Q4 this year at a price as yet unannounced. Check out a short video below.
Introducing Skydio X2™
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