Skydio X2 shipping begins now, giving the popular ‘crash-proof’ drone an enterprise-level upgrade and bringing it to more commercial users. And with the news of the Skydio X2 shipping, the California-based drone maker also announced a slew of new Skydio Cloud Services designed to better connect flight operations and help manage data.
The Skydio X2 improves upon the original Skydio 2 drone with the addition of dual color/thermal sensors, designed specifically for defense, public sector and enterprise customers. A new foldable, hardened and robust Skydio X2 airframe provides longer flight time with up to 35 minutes on a single battery and extended wireless range (up to 6 km on commercial 5 GHz band, and up to 10 km on the restricted 1.8 GHz government band). Skydio X2 is available in two versions:
- Skydio X2D is designed for defense and federal agencies. In fact, Skydio X2 has been approved by the U.S. government as a trusted solution for the US Department of Defense and is a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) compliant solution. Additionally, Skydio X2 was selected by the US Army for final integration in the Short Range Reconnaissance (SRR) program of record.
- Skydio X2E is intended for enterprises, first responders, and civilian agencies.
But it won’t come cheap. The price for Skydio X2 starts at about $11,000 — far higher than then $1,000 price tag on the consumer-focused Skydio 2.
It’s fairly common for companies to make enterprise versions of drones initially designed for consumers. For example, the DJI Mavic 2 launched in 2018, designed for professional photographers given its Hasselblad camera. But just a few months later, DJI launched the Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual, differentiated by a set of side-by-side visual and thermal cameras. And in December 2020, DJI launched the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced, which features thermal and RGB sensors.
And it’s just a smart business move. The drone hobby industry is not exactly proliferating. That said, commercial use of drones continues to grow, and it looks like 2021 will be a bigger year for drones than 2020 despite COVID-induced uncertainty.
Along with the news that Skydio X2 units began shipping on May 4, Skydio also today launched Skydio Cloud, which is a suite of cloud services and APIs designed to better enable customers to use drones at scale.
Rather than manually moving SD cards from drone to computer, the drone provides integration using cloud services to manage date, monitor fleets, maintain records of missions, access data, analyze it, and share it across the organization.
Skydio Cloud runs on AWS – US Region cloud infrastructure, which may be important to customers who want to ensure that their data sent to the cloud never leaves the U.S.
Who is using Skydio X2?
About 1,000 units have already been ordered already, Skydio said.
Among Skydio’s customers includes BNSF Railway, which has been using drones for aerial inspections and was an earlier beta test partner of Skydio Cloud.
“Since our effort’s founding in 2014, drones have become an important part of our operations, and being able to leverage Skydio’s autonomous flight capabilities is a key part of safe deployment,” said Todd Graetz, Director, RPA/UAS, BNSF Railway. “Skydio X2’s combination of autonomy with dual color/thermal sensor, longer flight time and extended wireless range will help us conduct aerial inspections more efficiently and with greater detail than ever before.”
Other use cases include reconnaissance, search and rescue, security patrol, situational awareness, asset inspection, scene reconstruction and small area survey.
On top of the updates to the Skydio X2, Skydio also announced a new X2 configuration with a single wide-angle color camera for close up inspections. Though, it’s only available for pre-order, with an exact shipping date yet to be announced.