Skydio R1 self-flying drone first look

Promises to fly itself and capture your trail adventures

Cameras Gear
Skydio R1

Skydio aims to deliver where all other self-flying drones have failed.

Here we go again, another follow-me drone to capture your rad mountain biking shred-fests. So many have promised this feat but none have come close to delivering on the promise of self-flying video capture.

Skydio does a fine job following Stacey the mountain biker in this promo video.

The technology is certainly getting there with self-driving cars and chipsets like the one on this drone from Intel, purpose-built for these applications. What’s been missing is the right set of rocket scientists to work on this problem of spatial awareness and collision avoidance.

Skydio R1

Once in the air, the R1 immediately begins documenting your ride.

Enter a pair of Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineering graduates and $70 million in funding to introduce the Skydio self-flying R1 drone/camera. Utilizing 13 cameras to map the world plus an Nvidia Jetson chip found in some of the most advanced self-driving cars. The Skydio R1 promises to capture your adventures on video and not hit anyone or anything.

Skydio R1

$2500 buys you tech found in self-driving cars.

To say that this is a difficult problem to solve is an understatement. We at Mtbr have seen and heard from many efforts in this arena, and they’ve all delivered nothing substantial or usable.

The tech behind this Skydio is backed up with bright minds.

Some examples are 3D Robotics Iris drone, Lily Robotics, and their vaporware drone and $30+ million in lost gofundme funds. And finally, GoPro and their Karma drone which was not self-flying but aimed to have follow-me features, recently cancelled.

Skydio R1

The Skydio R1 can film you or a friend. Just tap the person you want to follow.

So we ARE skeptical of this product. But listening to the the team gives us confidence that great strides have been made to get this product launch. And the next couple of years will push this company and the brightest minds in this category.

This is a great interview from tested.com digging to the Skydio’s details.

Skydio has raised about $70 million in funding since it was founded in 2014.

Skydio R1

Skydio top view.

Specifications
  • Size: 13”x16”x1.5”
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs
  • Battery: 16 minutes each, 2 batteries included
  • Top speed: 25 mph
Capture
  • 4k, 30fps
  • 1080p, 30, 60fps
  • Vibration isolated
  • 150° FOV
  • 64GB onboard storage
  • 1.5 hrs @ 4K, 4.5 hrs @ 1080p30
  • Stabilized (2 axes mechanical gimbal, 1 axis flight control)
  • Pitch range: +50° to -105°
  • Roll range: +35° to -35°
Computer
  • 256-core Nvidia Jetson GPU
  • Quad-core 64-bit ARM CPU
  • 4GB RAM
Live Video Stream
  • 720p, 15fps
  • Wi-Fi range 300 ft (Depending on phone)
Sensors
  • 12x navigation cameras for omnidirectional vision
  • 1x user video camera
  • 4x IMU
Sharing
  • Instant clip creation after every flight via the Skydio app
  • Full flight recording can be downloaded, edited over USB

The price for the Skydio R1 is $2499. For more information, visit www.skydio.com.

And when perfected, there’s that issue of trail use legality. Thoughts?


About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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  • Christopher says:

    Hmm, last time I rode down a mountain I hit speeds over 50 MPH – I guess this drone is ready for following people doing tough climbs, but not not much else (at least bike related).

    I mean, any serious cyclist will reach speeds over 25MPH either on road or off, right?

    • Francis Cebedo says:

      Getting video footage of a person going 50mph downhill on a fire road is not the most interesting content.

      Most of the interesting footage happens in slower, technical, tighter trails.

    • jim says:

      Christopher, yes agreed downhill can be a speed thing, but also think about straight line vs up and down a hilly downhill. Id be happy with the jump trails, and technical steep down hill types. BUTTTTT only 15min of flight time, is short. that would be like 1 run.

  • Alex says:

    But for slower technical riding it could awesome. A lot of riding in Southern BC is slow and techy so it could be a great option here. I’d be more concerned about collision avoidance in denser forest. And then there’s that price tag to consider.

  • myke says:

    this is not what needs promoting in cycling world.

  • Michael says:

    I’m excited for the day a real product comes out that lives up to the claims here. Maybe Skydio is the one, but I’ll be waiting for reviews.

  • Abe says:

    Tried it! If your near trees and the trail in not straight, then this generation drone is not the one.
    ** you always have to look over your shoulder to make sure the drone is following. It looses its subject very quickly if your riding at bike speed.
    ** drone makes super wide turns, thus if your in an area with lots of trees, you need to slow down to a CRAWL.
    It does great in open area where there are no trees. But 15min. of a rider down a dirt road or trail……….. is probably not the best 15min. of a youtube segment.
    ** its about 12×18″ which is big to carry around for 15min. of footage
    Its an expensive toy $2500 for what it films. This is silicon valley and plenty of early adapters with $ burning in their pockets.
    Maybe the next generation will fit the bill?

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