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Skydio Announces SDK to Make World's Cleverest Drone Even Cleverer

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

Skydio blew our minds when they announced the R1 back in February--it's by far the smartest, most autonomous consumer camera drone we've ever seen. The company promised that they'd keep on making the R1 even more capable, and today they're announcing a slew of upgrades, including a new software development kit (SDK) that lets you leverage the R1's obstacle-dodging cleverness in any custom application you can dream up. The Skydio R1 is amazing, and you should read our February article about it, but in a nutshell, it's a drone that uses an array of 12 cameras to dynamically detect and avoid obstacles while it tracks you and films what you're doing. This means that it can follow someone riding a mountain bike through a forest, dodging trees and branches and keeping them in frame the whole time. It's basically the kind of capability that every single company working on drone delivery has implicitly promised and so far failed to deliver, and now you can spend some cash (okay, kind of a lot of cash) and play with it yourself.


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IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

During the Hands Free Hectare project, no human set foot on the field between planting and harvest--everything was done by robots. To make these decisions, robot scouts (including drones and ground robots) surveyed the field from time to time, sending back measurements and bringing back samples for humans to have a look at from the comfort of someplace warm and dry and clean. With fully autonomous farm vehicles, you can use a bunch of smaller ones much more effectively than a few larger ones, which is what the trend has been toward if you need a human sitting in the driver's seat. Robots are only going to get more affordable and efficient at this sort of thing, and our guess is that it won't be long before fully autonomous farming passes conventional farming methods in both overall output and sustainability.