Skydio 2 is the most advanced auto follow drone in the world, at $999, according to its creators. Thanks to six 4K cameras and a team of MIT graduates that developed proprietary software. Without any input from the client, this drone will schedule video flight paths, travel, record and avoid obstacles.
Skydio has tried to iron the kinks which plague the original in this drone’s second generation. So I could only have pictured a self-follow-drone of this caliber when I had my hands on a review unit.
I flew into the closest forest on a mountain bike to try my best to drop it.
The first place I loosened Skydio 2 was the open carpark with just a few sparsely peppered lamp posts. I was careful to do that. I have developed a healthy distrust in their abilities after testing a half dozen other auto follow drones over the years. I wanted to try the first flight test in an obstacles free place, even with a reputation like Skydio’s.
In this open environment, I was delighted, when the drone flew in the direction of the trees near the edge of the plot and seemed on a collision run with a large Douglas fir for a somewhat tense wracking place between begin and change.
Luckily, the code of Skydio did its job and paused before the trunk to find the perfect point for shooting. I set up the auto follow of the drone to follow me and went to the parking lot on foot as soon as I got my nerves back. It sticked to me like white on rice, keeping a constant gap and changing the angle of the camera as appropriate.
For the next check, I and a few buddies got on our bicycles and began climbing a shutdown road on the way to the tree-filled and busy trails that we intended later. Branches hang from the trees and bushes around and only a short path could be easily pursued by the drone.
Again, this environment was easily handled by Skydio 2. The drone not only held me up, but kept me in frame all of the time, even when I attempted to deceive, by slowly turning and running backward.
I was impressed at this point, but the toughest test was ahead. What I’d come for was a number of trails through a dense forest. The plan was to spring them up as quickly as possible on mountain bike and see if Skydio 2 would keep up.
This is the last auto-follow drone test, in my mind. It can manage anything if it is able to navigate through close trees at high speed. I rode into the forest’s thickest portion, started the drone and flew the dirt down.
Here the limitations of the drone began to show. It went for a few seconds and negotiated a difficult path across the trees successful, but it began to lag behind because of its combination of fast speed and frequent obstacles. Within several seconds I lost it in the dust and had to go back in order to recover a visual lock.
At the beginning, without having a stop and wait for it to catch up, I couldn’t get over a dozen meters. I thought it would work here, but it was more a challenge than a luxury. But this extreme test highlighted how the Skydio 2 works, despite the lackluster chase footage. It wasn’t even near the collision. This is a great boost to morale, allowing the recording sessions more enjoyable for you.
I had full trust in Skydio’s autopilot by the end of the day. No matter how sketchy the surroundings, I cannot comprehend how easy it is to realize that your $1,000-flying camera will not ruin itself.
Skydio 2 not only can monitor several objects, it also maintains their visual signature and can re-establish a lock when someone exits and re-enters the scene.
I was driving past the drone at one point so I could watch my friend walking along the trail. It halted then. Probably because it was too far away. But when I fell under it and penetrated into the field of vision, Instantly, the program recalled me, turned on and resumed.
The rest of our journey through the forest was using this leapfrog process, which helped us to catch long unbroken sequences of riding even though the drone had trouble keeping up. Overall, this little quad inspired me. If we compare it to Hexo+ and Airdog which are its predecessors, it makes them look primitive.
Although this drone has been the main selling point for the advanced autopilot, it is an absolute disturbance to fly manually. The controls are powerful, sensitive and in the air the drone looks really agile and sporty. In the meantime, Skydio’s obstacle protection program is still in progress and will help you navigate any barrier.
I’ve checked devices for collision avoidance on other drones which aim to halt the drone in its direction if you come too close to something. The software from Skydio will automatically adjust your flight path to miss the hindrance, but will continue to fly in the direction you want. It essentially means that you can travel with reckless negligence and execute movements that you would normally not do.
This is basically what makes flying drones so enjoyable. As a pilot it gives you confidence. The Skydio AI advanced flight control system lets you travel better, quicker and with less energy, whether you’re operating manually or in complete autopilot.
Skydio 2 is the best drone I’ve ever tested for auto-following. In the last few years, I’ve been flying a number of them. It is probably the only non-DJI drone that I should like to purchase. Especially in case you or others do mountain biking, hiking, skiing or even wakeboarding are your main objective.
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