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Revue Skydio R1: a hypnotic, super-expensive, self-piloted drone

The idea of ​​a robot that methodically follows you around is not the most pleasant of concepts. A metal being that zooms 25 miles per hour with multiple eyes fixed on your position seems … out of your best interest.

The Skydio R1 drone seems quite nice. although. I would not say that I love or cute by any means, but he just wants to keep in touch with you and make sure that he captures your high life moments with his big blue eye.

What makes the Skydio R1 special is $ 2,499, it's that he does not need a pilot – he steals himself. The drone uses 12 of its 13 on-board cameras to quickly map the surrounding environment, detect obstacles and people who plan and readjust their flight paths quickly. That means you can start the thing and go for a walk. You can launch the thing and explore nature. You can launch the thing and ride a bike and the R1 will follow you with ease, never losing sight of it as it tries to follow you and capture the perfect 4K footage.

It was the sale of the company anyway; I got my hands on it a few weeks ago to test it myself and have it wrapped around the boring and awesome big west coast a lot with what I've come to the conclusion is clearly the smartest drone on the planet.

The R1 has a number of standalone modes to track users as it zips around. Not only can the drone follow you, it can also predict your way and walk in front of you. It can rotate around you as you move or follow the side. You can do all this by simply pressing a mode, launching the drone and moving. There are options for manual controls if you wish, but the R1 avoids the bulky drone controller for a simple and one-handed control system on the Skydio app on your phone.

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The application is incredibly simple and offers a wide range of tracking modes that are windy enough to slip through. Putting the drone in place for the first flight was as simple as connecting to the drone via a password and dragging a few minutes of educational content into the app. You can throw it off the ground or your hand; I've opted for the hand-held launcher most of the time, which feeds the propellers until it shoots you, flying over a few feet and fixing his gaze on you .


Walking around and following him is cool and all, but this thing shines when you're moving and he's catching up with you. It's really amazing to light the R1 and run through a dense forest with it lagging behind; the same goes for a bike ride. That said, Skydio 's technology showed that there was little problem in the middle of prolonged sessions, but I think it' s about 15 minutes per session, which corresponds to the average flight time of. a single battery. The Frontier Edition R1 comes with a second battery, which was a boon.

When it comes to capturing precise and fluid images, there is no substitute for a qualified drone pilot. Even with a perfectly good gimbal, the movements of the R1 are often quite sudden and lead to changes of direction that look a little odd to the camera. It's not all the continuous shots you get from the R1 that will make the cut, but what's crazy is that you literally have nothing to do. It just follows and saves you, leaving you a lot of footage that you can reduce in the editing.

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There are things I do not like. It's too big for one; The company insists that it's still small enough to fit in a backpack, but unless it's a backpack you could also charge a 17-inch gaming laptop, I doubt a little of that. The body feels light and substantial; but the stiffness of his outer frame and his overall size made me a little nervous at times that I was going to break it catastrophically, which was enough for me to leave it knowingly at home when I was snowboarding.

I am also a bit confused by the company's decision to make this control purely Wi-Fi over your telephone connection, a decision that definitely helps you lose it, but which also limits its main usefulness in follow up people who do not hold the phone. I hit the drone on a friend of mine who was running around a neighborhood but after taking off in a sprint, the R1 lost the signal and he stopped on a street where I am stayed trying to reconnect and move it safe as cars zoomed a few feet below.

For $ 2,499, it's not ridiculous to want features that also make it a more versatile drone; all the propellers are there, so it does not seem like it should be a shot to offer an additional controller that extends the range of a few hundred feet as it is right now.


This is not a complaint at all, but I'm delighted to see the gains in functionality achieved through future software updates; I think it would be really fun to follow a pet (he can currently only recognize humans). At a time when he was following me in a park, he mostly freaked out a bunch of dogs, which quickly began to chase him – and by extension, me. The sadist in me wanted to chase them with the R1.

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The R1 is a $ 2,499 product with a feature that makes it particularly appealing to the first drone user who will certainly not spend as much money in the first place. In some respects, this mismatch shows how disruptive this technology can be, but in the short term, the target buyer of this drone is an extremely narrow niche.

For the first adepts who love to get the new thing, you'll be happy that it actually works and it's not another half-baked dream on your way to autonomy. If you're a designer or vlogger who does a lot of solo traveling in the great outdoors, this drone could certainly transform the way you capture your travels and end up being a great buy – albeit a very expensive one.