As most drone enthusiasts have expected to happen, that Skydio would become a key player in the market and give a neck to neck competition to the established drone maker DJI, the reality although it seems far from it.
Recently, Skydio has made an announcement which states the company’s plan as they move forward. They have been able to launch two drones with some very impressive features, but both haven’t fared well in terms of what they were meant to do. Many were expecting the drone maker to give up entirely on the idea of covering the enterprise and military market both.
As per the company, though, their future seems different. Many plans have been revealed by the company’s CEO Adam Bry in a recent interview, and it seems like their goal is to go all-in and manufacture more consumer drones.
Bry has stated that the timing fits well for them to launch new products while moving ahead in the enterprise market. For them, it seems the goal isn’t to beat DJI at what they are doing but to rather upstage them by giving the drones more features and eliminating the need of a pilot.
A very insightful rhetorical question was put forward by Bry during his interview, “Being able to follow you is something an expert pilot could do; being able to inspect a house is something an expert pilot can do; being able to inspect a bridge is something an expert pilot can do. How do we put that in software so anyone can benefit from it?”Source
The questions here put forward by Adam Bry support the idea of AI skills that are being developed by the company, which could help the drones perform the mentioned functions. One such feature could work this way, for instance, the drone could scan the entire area around itself first and then move onto mapping out the entire home through clicking images.
It seems that Skydio is looking at opportunities that the AI skills that they are developing could have, not just among the regular uses but with fields like cinematography as well where an expert is always present. Bry also suggests that with drones, camera moves which would have been earlier impossible would be possible because of the skills their drones would possess.
Skydio also plans to go forward with a very different business model, under which buyers would have to purchase the skills as an add on, rather than just having them already like in products bought off the shelf.
Despite everything, a similar idea, which was brought earlier by 3D Robotics, had been thrown out because of the competition it faced coming from DJI. At the time, DJI had drones that were much more affordable. Although, Skydio seems adamant on their move with the AI skills. The confidence seems to have come from the fact the government is currently sceptical of allowing Chinese products. Skydio being a US born brand already has contracts with the US Air force, which DJI won’t be getting any time soon.
It is also notable that having government contracts doesn’t make the company a weapon system provider because they stand against putting up any weapons with their drones. It is why it will take some time before the company gest proper thrust in the right direction. The plan is to rather introduce drones as emergency responsive devices.
Currently, Skydio happens to have a contract with one police department, but that doesn’t stop them from focusing on the positive involvement their drones have had. No costs have also been revealed, along with what features one might see in the final product, but Bry suggests that they are on the right track.