Don’t get too excited – YET. But the first truly advanced American company to bring a 4K advanced camera drone to market announced their product this week (mid-Fed. 2017) and claim to be shipping in as little as 2-3 weeks.
With a large R&D team and a first class bundle of Silicon Valley (and other) investors, the Skydio drone does things that no other drone can – specifically, it has advanced follow-me which is claimed (by preliminary reviewers) to really work. We’re talking dodging branches, tree and anything else.
Sure – it is unlikely to sell many at $2499- BUT, the cost of production if a unit like this was made in large quantities could be quite low.
What do you think? Is this the beginning of a real USA effort to get into the consumer drone market?
The model was designed and built by a top-notch team including former members of Google’s Project Wing. It is designed as a follow-me model…but uses more advanced technology to truly avoid obstacles, even at relatively high speeds. With 13 cameras and AI (artificial intelligence) borrowed from self-driving cars, this unit claims to have leapfrogged the existing market in terms of autonomy.
Our Initial Take
This is a serious effort undertaken over 4 years by a top-notch team and deep pocket investors. Still, at $2499 and with limited functions it is initially more of a demo of technology than a consumer drone that will sell by the millions. However, take $1K off the price (scale up production) and it could sell decently. Bring it down eventually to under 1K and it may fly off the shelves.
Of course, the usual question has to be asked. One can only imagine the CEO of DJI looking at this unit and immediately ordering a meeting of his design team to make sure them beat it….at 1/2 or less the price. In fact, I would be surprised if this meeting didn’t happen months ago (the insiders probably knew Skydio was working on this). A DJI similar model would certainly include a lot of their “kitchen sink” software and hardware such as an R/C controller to make for more use cases.
The above is, of course, pure speculation – but it is based on the past and on my knowledge of the way DJI works. They, so far, have refused to allow any other company to grab a decent share of the market.
On the other hand, is Skydio can move quickly and get the price down and make the unit more flexible, they will have a willing public as well as potential sales to the US Government, State Agencies and others who may desire to deal with an American company for sensitive sales and uses of the drone and technology.
However, the drone market is one of big numbers – Skydio cannot flourish unless they eventually sell 100’s of thousands of units per year. Perhaps their future is in merging with a larger company that has the resources to establish a true American consumer drone market.
In any case, congratulations to the Skydio Team for an amazing effort and initial product. We wish you success and would love to review a demo or production unit as soon as they are available.
For more info and demo videos, please see https://www.skydio.com/