In December 2020, Skydio released a suite of new software features for the Skydio 2 and X2 drones. These software features are part of Skydio Autonomy Enterprise Foundation (AEF) and take advantage of Skydio’s advanced autonomy engine. One of the software features is so revolutionary and unlike anything else currently on the market that we decided to dedicate an entire blog to it. This software feature, known as Skydio 360 Superzoom, allows the drone operator to see 360° around the drone, further assisting the pilot during tactical situational awareness scenarios and detailed industrial asset inspections. In this blog, we are going to review how 360 Superzoom works and go over various use cases that highlight the impact of Skydio 360 Superzoom.
What is Skydio 360 Superzoom?
At the heart of Skydio’s autonomy system is a high-powered information processing core and six cameras. Each of the four arms holds a camera on the top and on the bottom of the drone. These cameras enable the Skydio drone to understand the world around it and to make safe decisions about where to fly when presented with obstacles. When Skydio 360 Superzoom is enabled, the drone will stitch together the video feeds from all six wide angle cameras located on the body of the drone to give the drone operator a 360° view around the drone. This allows the drone operator to quickly see around the drone without having to manually turn the drone in every direction.
This feature is unlike anything else on the market today. Instead of using the controller to slowly pan the camera to see everything around it, Skydio 360 Superzoom automatically does this for you. If the drone operator sees something in the 360° view, he/she can quickly zoom in with the controller to the area of interest. The drone will automatically switch from using the 360° view to using the 180° gimbaled dual (color and infrared) sensor cameras to show the area of interest up close. The 360 Superzoom feature is unique to Skydio, because no other drone in the market has six wide angle cameras and a processor that can seamlessly stitch all the camera views together in real time. On top of the 360° view stitching feature, the X2’s ability to do 16x zoom with the color camera or do 8x zoom with the infrared camera demonstrates the dominance of Skydio’s flight controller processing power.
Can DJI or Autel Drones do this?
Skydio 360 Superzoom technology solves a problem that all other drones in the enterprise market still struggle with. When the drone operator is flying the drone, the operator first looks up at where the drone is in the sky, and then down at the video feed on the controller to see what the drone is looking at. This is to ensure the drone’s surroundings are clear from any obstacles and to align the drone with what should be within the camera's field of view. With the Skydio drone, the operator is able to see in all directions and zoom in to see a clearer view of an area of interest, enabling them to focus on capturing the footage they need without having to search around for the area of interest. All while not having to worry about crashing into anything because of the 360° obstacle avoidance system.
With only one dual gimbaled camera, the DJI Enterprise drones and Autel Evo 2 Dual are unable to see in any other direction than what the camera is pointing at. This means that there is significantly more risk when flying a DJI or Autel drone, because there is no way to see in any other direction without manually flying the drone to turn it around. Additionally, with Skydio’s advanced autonomy system, the drone operator can focus on getting the picture or video without having to worry about obstacles. This makes it more efficient and safer to find other areas of interest while flying. All other drones on the market, including everything from DJI to Autel, are unable to do what the Skydio drone can do because of Skydio’s cameras and autonomy system.
Scenario 1: Law Enforcement Serving a High Risk Warrant
Serving a high-risk warrant is one of the most dangerous duties that law enforcement officers can face. The risks associated with these duties include predatory suspects, firearms, improvised explosive devices, and drug manufacturing dangers. A key part of safety when serving a high-risk warrant is the operational overwatch of the location during the warrant service.
Google satellite maps are not updated frequently enough to be used as a valid source for the type of environment that officers will be facing. The backyard of a residence may have obstacles such as mobile trailers that are not located in the satellite view and are not visible from the street. The suspect may be using a trailer like this as a hiding spot or drug house that could be an obstacle or danger to officers. How can the officers possibly minimize dangers such as these? Skydio’s X2 drone with 360 Superzoom technology is the answer. It provides officers with full 360° aerial support when serving a high-risk warrant, a necessary tool to keep officers and the public safe.
Scenario 2: Bridge Inspection
Typically, when inspecting bridges, there is a choice between using an aerial work platform, an under-bridge inspection vehicle, or ladders and rope access. This choice is dependent on the type of bridge and the crews’ ability to close lanes of traffic. All of these methods are expensive, require lane closures, and are dangerous to inspection crews.
That’s where the Skydio drone comes in. With its superior obstacle sensing autonomy system, the Skydio is able to fly in GPS-denied environments such as under a bridge. The ability to fly under large metal and concrete structures is something that is unique to Skydio. DJI and Autel drones are not able to carry out these types of bridge inspections because their drone systems require strong GPS signals and a metal-free environment to prevent interference with their magnetometer navigation systems.
Not only can the Skydio safely maneuver under bridges, but with Skydio 360 Superzoom, it can also see the complete picture underneath the bridge. Inspectors can easily go from the 6 camera complete picture stitched view, to the main camera zoomed in view after seeing any area of interest on the bridge.
The Key Impact of Skydio 360 Superzoom
Skydio 360 Superzoom, which is part of the AEF software package, gives the drone operator the ability to both fly lower while still seeing the entire scene, and to quickly zoom into any area of interest. This advanced Skydio technology overcomes the challenge of trying to manually fly the drone, maneuver the drone camera into the correct view, avoid crashing, and fly in GPS-denied environments. With Skydio 360 Superzoom, the Skydio drone is unlike any other. It provides maximum situational awareness in the most technical situations—a feature unavailable on any other drone on the market.
Now available for Skydio 2 and X2. Contact us to get your drone activated.