Professional drone pilots understand the difficulties of operating manual drones for enterprise applications: the ever-present risk of crashing, having to turn down drone applications that are lucrative but just too risky, and a steep learning curve requiring heavy self-teaching. With Skydio AutonomyTM built into our drones, we have already alleviated many of the risks associated with drone flights, and for the past several months we have been describing in this blog series how the Skydio 2 has started to revolutionize the way in which enterprises and public safety agencies address their more demanding use cases through the power of autonomy.
Today we are excited to announce the imminent availability of two offerings that will enable a fully-fledged enterprise experience for Skydio 2:
- Skydio Autonomy Enterprise Foundation (AEF), a new software product that delivers advanced AI-powered capabilities to assist the pilot during tactical situational awareness scenarios and detailed industrial asset inspections. Designed for professionals, it offers an enterprise-caliber flight experience through the new Skydio Enterprise application (available for iOS and Android). AEF for Skydio 2 is generally available as of today with a list price of $1,499 per year.
- Skydio Academy, the home for our new enterprise-level training programs and certifications to help customers acquire the knowledge and skills needed to take advantage of the new age of autonomy. Skydio Academy certifications for Skydio 2 and Autonomy Enterprise Foundation will be available in January 2021.
With our new pilot assistance software and a suite of training programs, we are investing even further in equipping pilots to perform missions they never thought possible. If you are interested and want to learn more, please contact us using this link.
In the remainder of today’s blog, we will give you a detailed look into these two offerings.
Skydio Autonomy Enterprise Foundation gives your pilots more control
We at Skydio have extensively studied drone applications among enterprise, public safety, and defense pilots in a continual quest to improve the flight experience. Shortly after Skydio 2 was launched at the end of 2019, I had the privilege to participate in an extensive customer research initiative to better understand our customers’ needs as we grew from a focus on consumer cinematography to a much wider range of use cases.
We owe our AEF design and implementation to the incredible support of some of our most innovative professional customers, from public safety agencies like the Sacramento Metro Fire Department, to state agencies like the Ohio Department of Transportation, to the world’s largest engineering organization, Jacobs Engineering. And today, we are excited to talk about the first of many fruits of that labor.
AEF allows pilots to fly into tighter areas, see more when they get there, and get back safely in environments where manual drones risk losing GPS and crashing. No matter the mission, a pilot equipped with AEF will fly more confidently and perform more effectively against their objectives.
AEF provides a start-to-finish enterprise experience, beginning with the user interface — the new Skydio Enterprise app — which provides an interface designed around the AEF features so that pilots can focus on completing the mission more efficiently than ever.
The new Skydio Enterprise app offers a dedicated enterprise experience. Pilots can still choose to fly with the Skydio 2 app to enjoy more cinematic experiences.
Next, we have the AI-pilot assist features that comprise the AEF software package. The common thread among these features is that they make a pilot more effective while navigating the drone with the controller. Let’s look at a couple of our most common use cases to see how AEF makes the pilot’s job easier and helps deliver better results faster.
Generate precise inspections of more assets without compromising safety.
Drones are a safer and more efficient inspection option for a wide range of assets, from bridges, where they offset the need for expensive snooper trucks, to cell towers, where they obviate the need for dangerous tower climbs. With manual drones, these inspections tend to be hazardous and time-consuming — some assets are difficult to inspect with enough detail, and others too dangerous for a manual drone to inspect at all. With AEF, we help enterprise pilots to capture every single detail in less time without compromising the safety of the aircraft. We are excited to bring this functionality to the inspection community after extended pre-release testing, including the drone subject matter experts at Jacobs Engineering Group.
“We love to see the progress that Skydio is making in bringing the power of autonomy to enterprise users. Skydio’s AI-based drones are a game-changer for operators like us. Coupled with the new enterprise software capabilities, these will allow us to perform an even wider range of missions faster, safer, and with higher quality than with any other tool available today.” — Jarvis Worton, Global Platform Technology Specialist / sUAS SME | Jacobs Engineering Group
Close Proximity Obstacle Avoidance (CPOA) lets the inspector get into tight spaces. In a crowded environment, avoiding obstacles in close proximity to the drone is critical. CPOA allows pilots to shrink the distance their drone keeps from structures (from 0.9 meters down to 0.41 meters), unlocking the ability to fly through gaps such as doorways, bridge trusses, power plant components. Combined with the Skydio 2’s ability to operate in GPS-denied environments thanks to its vision-based navigation system, CPOA allows Skydio pilots to navigate impossible environments where even the most skilled manual drone pilots would refuse to operate.
“Using Close Proximity Obstacle Avoidance lets me fly my drone into tight areas, so I can do inspections that were previously impossible on any drone.” — Jarvis Worton, Global Platform Technology Specialist / sUAS SME | Jacobs Engineering Group
Precision Mode gives greater control when navigating complex environments. While consumers love Skydio 2’s cinematic tuning to generate smooth flight paths around obstacles, inspectors require instant and predictable reactions from the drone. Precision Mode provides ultra-sharp positioning of the drone in response to joystick inputs to make it easier to line up precise shots. While navigating a complex environment, Precision Mode helps pilots capture better inspection data, with centered photos and proper angles of key assets.
Vertical View helps the pilot see directly above the area they are flying. For entire categories of inspections, looking down just isn’t enough. Products such as the DJI Mavic or Phantom carry bottom-facing cameras that cannot see above the drone. With Vertical View, pilots can use the camera to look straight up while trusting the drone’s built-in AI to avoid obstacles the pilot can’t see. Our bridge inspection customers have seen the benefits of this feature first-hand, enabling them to inspect the underside of a bridge without the fear of crashing.
“Vertical View is game-changing when paired with Skydio Autonomy. I can keep my focus on the underside of a bridge or pier while safely moving the aircraft in any direction. This feature has had a tremendous impact on our bridge inspection workflows.” — Jarvis Worton, Global Platform Technology Specialist / sUAS SME | Jacobs Engineering Group
Visual Return-to-Home (RTH) gets the drone back from complex, high-RF interference, and GPS-denied environments. Inspectors frequently find themselves flying in environments where GPS and magnetometers fail — one of the most common ways to crash a manual drone. With Visual RTH, pilots do not need to spend entire flights panicked that they will lose connection to their drone and helplessly watch it crash into the very asset they were inspecting.
Offline Maps mean you can use map-based features even without an LTE connection. For inspections of infrastructure in remote areas where mobile devices have no LTE connectivity, downloading maps ahead of time is vital to maintain GPS-based features such as Point-of-Interest Orbit, Waypoint Missions, Fly-to-Here, and setting custom home points. With Offline Maps, there is no compromise on performance when operating in remote locations.
Magnify your situational awareness in a broader range of environments.
We have learned an immense amount from our first responder partners, who have deployed Skydio drones across a wide range of advanced use cases, including Tactical BVLOS operations pioneered by Skydio and our autonomy capability. AEF gives pilots greater situational awareness on every drone mission so that they can better protect their teams and communities. We are excited to bring this to the first responder community after conducting pre-release tests with the visionary drone operators at the Sacramento Metro Fire Department.
“We are excited to roll out Skydio Autonomy Enterprise Foundation across our Skydio fleet to be able to fly closer and see more on every drone flight, without compromising safety.” — Ryan Gifford, Sacramento Metro Fire Department Captain / UAV Program Manager
Superzoom gives pilots the full view of any situation. Whether clearing a room quickly or assessing an outdoor scene for oncoming threats, Superzoom gives pilots eyes in the back of their drone. This feature lets pilots zoom in 3x on Skydio 2 and all the way out into a global view through the navigation cameras onboard every Skydio, for a total 32x zoom differential. The result is maximum situational awareness without even having to move the drone.
Point of Interest (POI) Orbit enables hands-free surveillance and enhanced overwatch. Every Skydio is capable of orbiting cars and people; when equipped with AEF, the drone can orbit any user-defined point on the map. Orbits are nerve-wracking for manual drone pilots, who know their aircraft are flying blind along the circle they define. One mistake can destroy their vehicle. Skydio’s omnidirectional obstacle avoidance, paired with POI Orbit, gives pilots a hands-free, worry-free overwatch tool.
Track in Place enables enhanced surveillance. In the Skydio enterprise experience, pilots who are tracking a subject can retain control of the drone’s movement while the drone’s camera autonomously tracks a car or person from longer distances than before (up to 5x Skydio 2’s base tracking abilities, subject to light conditions). This feature can help search and rescue teams track their operators as they navigate wide areas.
Close Proximity Obstacle Avoidance (CPOA) allows for street-level and indoor tactical flight. Today’s tactical robots are highly specialized, and even for drones, different aircraft specializes in indoor and outdoor applications. CPOA allows Skydios to fly through spaces as small as a standard doorway so that pilots can navigate indoor areas with ease and safety.
“Close Proximity Obstacle Avoidance allows us to fly our aircraft into tight, complex environments without giving up the safety that normally comes with flying Skydios. We are excited to use it for search and rescue missions.”- Ryan Gifford, Sacramento Metro Fire Department Captain / UAV Program Manager
Skydio Academy Takes Flight
As organizations of all sizes upgrade to autonomous drone technology, instruction from highly trained Skydio professionals will help new pilots to more rapidly draw value from Skydio’s advanced capabilities. Skydio Academy will empower enterprise drone teams to transition smoothly to new autonomous workflows and maximize their Skydio drone programs.
Skydio Academy will offer a comprehensive curriculum composed of online and in-person training courses covering everything a pilot needs to maximize the potential of Skydio aircraft and enterprise software. Skydio Academy offers two program levels:
The Skydio Professional Operator (SPO) certification ensures that the pilot possesses knowledge about the equipment, assembly, preflight, launch, flight skills, landing, postflight, maintenance, and troubleshooting. The Skydio Professional Operator certification is a prerequisite to the Skydio Expert Operator certification.
The Skydio Expert Operator (SEO) certification ensures that the pilot possesses advanced flight skills by pairing the pilot with a Skydio Master Instructor in the field. Students will develop real-life skills to safely operate Skydio 2 and maximize the benefits of AEF features. Skydio Academy certifications focus on the safe and effective operation of Skydio aircraft and software and are independent of and complementary to the FAA’s Part 107 certification.
To enable customers of all sizes and in every location to have access to Skydio professional training, Skydio Academy will offer four learning styles.
Self-paced Online Training. Our online Skydio training provides a quick and effective way to get your organization up to speed with the Skydio ecosystem. Our robust self-paced online training course on the operation of Skydio 2, the Skydio Enterprise App, and Skydio Autonomy Enterprise Foundation allows students to review product-related material on their own schedule. Students will earn a Skydio Professional Operator certification upon the completion of this course.
Instructor-led Online Training. Intended for operators and organizations who wish to get up to speed with the Skydio ecosystem remotely while leveraging a live virtual instructor who can answer any questions. Students will earn a Skydio Professional Operator certification upon the completion of the course.
Blended Training. This option provides a convenient combination of self-paced online training to acquire basic knowledge, followed by a live in-person training session with a Skydio Master Instructor to gain hands-on experience. Students will earn the Skydio Expert Operator certification upon completion of the course.
In-person Training. Our instructor-led in-person training starts with classroom training and is followed by live flight training in the field with a Skydio Master instructor. Students will earn the Skydio Expert Operator certification upon completion of this course and will possess the skills needed to safely and effectively operate the Skydio system.
Now that you are spun up on our new enterprise software and training options, we encourage you to leverage the power autonomy for your enterprise drone program by contacting us.