As if Skydio’s R1 camera drone wasn’t already cool enough, it’s now launched an app for the Apple Watch that takes the drone experience to a whole new level.
This, don’t forget, is the drone that comes sans controller because its impressive self-flying software — powered by 13 on-board cameras, artificial intelligence, and advanced computer vision software — takes care of pretty much everything.
It works like this: Once the R1 is in the air, the new Apple Watch app lets you select the person that you want your quadcopter to track. Then it’s simply a case of choosing one of the flight modes — Lead, Orbit, Dronie, and Boomerang among them — and away you go.
Up to now, R1 owners could only use their smartphone to prep their bird for flight, but transferring the process to a smartwatch app adds extra convenience by moving the power of flight control to your wrist. A couple of taps on your Apple Watch and the app and the R1 springs into action — no more fumbling about with your smartphone every time you want to select a new subject or flight mode.
Skydio’s drone shoots 4K at 30 frames per second, or 1080p at 30 or 60 frames per second. It has a top speed of 25 mph, flight time of 16 minutes on a single charge, and tips the scales at 2.2 pounds. The device itself comprises a lightweight anodized aluminum fuselage and carbon fiber rotor guards that help to protect both you and the machine.
Tying in with this week’s launch of the Skydio’s Apple Watch app, the drone will also start selling at U.S. and Canadian Apple Stores, marking its first availability beyond the company’s own online store.
Skydio’s founders gained much of their experience working on Google’s drone delivery initiative — Project Wing — and also spent time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developing autonomous flight systems. The company, based in California, garnered a lot of interest when its autonomous quadcopter the market at the start of this year.
So, any downsides? Well, for many it’ll be the price tag. At $ 2,000, the R1 isn’t cheap, especially when you compare it to some other pretty smart drones currently on the market.
But if you have the cash to splash and like the idea of ditching the controller and letting the drone do all the work, Skydio’s R1 drone — and its new Apple Watch app — could well be what you’re looking for.