Quite an intriguing design for this drone, high price as well. However, as you will see in this Skydio R1 review, this drone is worth every dime that you will pay for it. The drone looks different from many other drones that you know. While it is not ruggedly handsome or anything close, it stands apart from the others. It is certainly going to get several glances thrown your way in the park.
Enough about the looks though, at least for now – what can this drone do? A lot. First, its bestselling feature is that it is an autonomous drone meaning that you can fly it hands-free. The inclusion of a 4K video camera also makes it a good drone to shoot your footage for outdoor adventures like hiking, mountain biking, driving/road trips and many more.
The price of this drone was even higher than what it is today. Initially, it cost $2500. However, it was slashed to $2000. In the upcoming sections, we will look at all the features that it comes with. That way, you can then make up your mind whether it is worth the money. Or not.
Skydio R1 Features & Technical Details
The first thing that you will notice about this drone is that it is big. The Skydio R1 autonomous drone measures 16 inches by 13 inches by 1.6 inches. That is big, but you will also notice that this drone lacks landing struts. Thus, it does seem to sit a bit low on the ground. As for the weight, it weighs 2.2 pounds, which is a bit on the high side and therefore, you have to register this drone with the FAA before you can fly it.
This is the best-selling feature of this drone. You can fly it totally hands-free, with just your smartphone. In fact, you will realize that there is no controller in the package.
The R1 has been designed with 13 cameras, which work together to help the drone navigate the surroundings, following you even between obstacles without colliding with things.
At the same time, this drone shoots wonderful footage, thanks to the 4K video camera. The ability to navigate around obstacles in the flying environment is powered by the integrated NVIDIA Tegra Artificial Intelligence system.
If you are handy and you do not like the idea of leaving all of the control of your drone to the AI system, you can try flying it manually through the app. While reading a Skydio R1 review, you will see many users saying that this drone cannot beat a manually flown one. You see, there is the human factor to judge situations and make decisions faster. However, if you are willing to embrace a technology of the future, this is the drone for you.
One thing that you should know though is that this drone relies on its cameras to fly. Thus, it will not even take off if there is not enough light. You can consider this as a nice safety feature. If it flew sightless, how then would it be able to map its route around obstacles?
The numerous cameras are the eyes of this drone, helping it to navigate and find its way around the surroundings. There are 12 cameras for navigation and then there is the main camera that captures your video and photo footage. The rest 12 cameras are arranged in such a way that they face all directions and they do help the drone to navigate easily. Some of them face upwards, some sideways and others face downwards. When the drone flies, these cameras scan the environment mapping the entire area around them to assist in the flight.
One of the questions that people ask is how well these cameras fly the drone. Well, there are mixed reactions about this in the market. We can say that they work about 95% of the time, which is a pretty fair achievement, all things are considered.
The main front facing camera captures stunning footage all the time. If you are an outdoor enthusiast and you want to share your adventures with family and friends on social media, this drone is perfect for that. Just share your footage instantly through the app.
Follow me and subject tracking feature
This is another good feature of the drone. It will follow cars and it will follow people. However, it will not follow pets. The drone can do a speed of 26 miles per hour 42km/h. Thus, if you drive any faster than that, the drone may be unable to follow. The drone uses the Wi-Fi connection on your smartphone.
The AI will map its way to the place where there are people or vehicles in readiness for action. This kind of hands-free action is very impressive and makes this drone a must-have for tech nerds.
The battery and flight time
The Skydio R1 uses a lithium polymer battery. This battery is able to give the pilot about 20 minutes of awesome flight time. While the very first buyers of the drone got it with two batteries, today, it is only sold with one. You can contact the manufacturer to see whether you can buy a separate battery to double your flight time. The maximum flight speed is 26mph. That is not fast enough to run after a fast moving car, so take note of that.
Other flight features
Without going too much into tech details, this stunning drone can avoid obstacles pretty well. You will love how it runs! If you would like to have a great experience, you should use the drone in an open field. That way, it will lock into you and follow you at a given distance, just as a manually operated drone with follow me mode would.
In any case, you will love how it weaves itself around obstacles. It is quite something to watch. If you admit it though, every drone enthusiast dreams of owning a military drone, but that is not possible. This kind of autonomous drone is the closest that you may ever come to a military drone.
Short Summary of Feedback from Existing Owners
I have had a great experience with this drone. However, I have not flown it in a place with obstacles. I will take her out soon amidst trees to test how well she avoids obstacles. Samo L
Stunning 4K video footage! I did edit it some, but it never lost its quality. I took this drone camping with me, shooting footage about how to pitch a tent without pegs for my YouTube channel. I love it! Steve H
I have mixed feelings about this drone. On the positive note, I love how it weaves its way around obstacles. However, I find it a bit slow when it is following me as compared to my older drones that have “follow me” mode. Jessie R.
The only downside I have noted about this drone is the short flight time. At the price of $2000, I think it should have come with better flight time, or a spare battery as a bonus. However, I can live with it. Joe A.
I love everything about this drone. I had had no experience about an autonomous vehicle apart from what I had read about Google Smart Car. This drone practically flies itself! Braun G.
The software is quite good, it works very well and Skydio makes frequent updates from time to time. This keeps the software well streamlined and works well without any hiccups. Harry L.
I feel the pinch in my wallet, but I would buy the Skydio R1 again. It follows me on my mountain biking on the trails if I can ride only slightly faster than its top speed. Grace S.
Pros of Skydio R1
- One of the best of the autonomous drones
- Regular updates to the software ensure it works well all the time
- High-resolution video footage
- Obstacle avoidance really works well
- No controller is required for this drone
- Works with smartphone and with Apple Watch
- It can anticipate where people will shift to in 4 seconds and position itself appropriately
- Solid build makes the drone quite durable
Cons of Skydio R1
- Too large for portability
- Battery life and flight time could be better
- Takes some time to understand the app
- No lowlight or night flights
Who Should Buy The Skydio R1?
Should we say anyone who can afford it? If you love the technology of the future, and clearly, Uber, Google and Tesla do considering what they have been doing with autonomous vehicles, you will buy the Skydio R1. Buy it and see what the integrated AI can do. If it is your very first drone though, avoid it, start with smaller ones and learn about drones. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, this drone is great for shooting great outdoor footage.
Conclusion and Recommendation
If you have loved what you have seen in this Skydio R1 review, there are a few recommendations to bear in mind. One of them is that it never flies in the dark, don’t even attempt it. The second one is that you need to understand how the app works, so take your time and learn all you can. The third recommendation is that you should first fly this drone in open spaces without obstacles, so you can see just how good the AI is. You may also buy a second and third spare battery for more flight time.