When we launched Skydio R1 earlier this year, we shipped the first autonomous vehicle people can buy for themselves. Not only that, but to give creators and adventurers the ultimate tool for autonomously following and filming someone as they do their favorite outdoor activities, we had to pull off breakthroughs for some of the biggest challenges in robotics, like flying in places you haven’t mapped before. Whether you’re filming yourself on a ride down a mountain on your bike or kayaking in white water rapids, there’s never been a single product that can serve as a film crew in your backpack like Skydio R1, and it’s thanks to the foundation of autonomy that Skydio has been building for more than four years.
While we are incredibly proud of this new tool, our ambitions for what is possible with a self-flying camera extends far beyond “just” following people as they engage in breathtaking action sports.
So we’re excited to announce our latest software update, which extends the frontier of what’s possible for our users and makes R1 an even more powerful creative tool.
The first new feature we can’t wait for creators to use is our new Cable Cam Cinematic Skill. Unlike the Cinematic Skills that launched with R1 — which included Follow, Lead, Side, and others — Cable Cam allows users to capture shots that aren’t focused on a single subject.
Let’s say you want to reveal the beautiful vista at the end of a trail. With Cable Cam, you simply mark the start and end views of your desired shot, and the Skydio Autonomy Engine will smoothly fly R1 along the route while avoiding any obstacles.
Of course, there are situations where you want your camera to move along a set path, but still want R1 to stay pointed at a specific subject — maybe you’re trying to get footage of a soccer player from the sidelines, but want a more dynamic perspective than a camera on a tripod planted in one spot. In that case, you could set two Cable Cam end points at each end of the field, lock on to a subject, and let R1 move back and forth along the “cable” as the player being filmed runs from one side to the other.
We think of Cable Cam as an example of how we can use autonomy to enable individuals to create things that previously would have required a van full of gear and at least a few other people as a crew.
But some of the best moments to film can’t be planned. And that’s why we spent the last several months building a new set of One-Shot Skills.
Some of these skills, like Dronie and Boomerang, essentially take things that Skydio customers were already doing with the manual controls in the Skydio app — like zooming Skydio R1 way-out to show the viewer the broader context, or having R1 do an elliptical orbit out after reaching the cliffside at the end of a hike — and turns them into repeatable templates that can be fired off with one tap and will give you a quick clip that’s perfect for sharing.
New One-Shot Skills include:
Dronie – a selfie, but with your R1. Dronie works best when the background and area around the subject is interesting. Varying the height and distance can give you wildly different perspectives, depending on the surroundings.
Rocket – gives a bird’s eye view of the area around you, and works well when the drone can fly straight up. It also continues to track you so can create a unique perspective as it flies down to catch back up to you.
Boomerang – begins with a tight shot of the subject, then moves around and behind the subject and reveals what the subject is looking at. It then comes back and finishes in front of the subject.
Vortex – starts close to the subject and the revolves upward and/or outward. It works best in open areas where you want to combine a close-up with a view of the landscape all around the subject.
As with other drone concepts, the idea of pre-scripted cinematic motion isn’t new, but it’s the kind of thing that isn’t useful unless you can trust the drone to fly itself. This is what the Skydio Autonomy Engine makes possible. Even when used for a quick dronie, Skydio R1 is looking in every direction for potential obstacles, and will adjust its own flight path to get the shot a user wants while keeping itself safe.
And when you’re done getting a beautiful shot that you want to share with the world, the Skydio mobile app has made it even easier to quickly download high-quality video from Skydio R1 to your phone’s camera roll. In addition to the clip creation tools previously available, the Skydio app now offers a new Stabilize export option for even smoother video. Skydio recommends applying this new effect on all clips made with the new one-shot cinematic Skills.