[SHOT 2022] Skydio Thermal Drones

    A friend of mine, Sean S. clued me into Skydio back in the fall of 2020. I met up with Charlie of Skydio back then and he showed me a new drone they were submitting to the military. It is now called the X2D and they were at SHOT Show Range Day.

    Drones @TFB

    Skydio 2+

    What sets Skydio drones apart from other commercial drones is the software and AI programmed into them. They had two different drones. The smaller entry level one is their new Skydio 2+.

    Skydio 2+

    The Skydio 2+ has 6 cameras all around the drone air frame that constantly see the world to calculate distance and position based on what it sees. This is how the Skydio 2+ can achieve it’s amazing obstacle avoidance. At the front of the drone is a 4k60 HDR camera. The camera can be postioned 180 degrees from looking above the drone to below the drone.

    The Skydio 2+ has improved range for up to 6km line of sight. And a flight time of up to 27mins depending on how full the battery is.

    Skydio has great programming in their drones. The Skydio 2+ is basically a flying crane or dolly for the camera. You can program way points using the cameras on the drone to map out a course for the drone to fly and repeat if necessary. With the great obstacle avoidance you can get some really great shots through tight areas.

    Here is their promotional video.

    The Skydio 2+ starts at an MSRP of $1,099. They have various packages with extra parts and accessories. If you want to maximum range then some of the accessories are needed for that.

    Skydio X2D

    If you want something a little more useful than just a flying camera then Skydio has their X2D. Back in November of 2020, Charlie quietly showed me a pre-production version of the X2D that they submitted for a contract with the Army.

    The X2D is a more robust unit for duty use and they have a thermal package for it. Their duty grade X2D has night flight abilities by using the thermal camera and GPS location.

    The X2D has a 3D scan feature. Using the controller, the operator can select an area, for example a building, and the X2D will autonomously scan the building with high resolution images to then generate a 3D map of the area the X2D surveilled.

    With the same software, the X2D can fly autonomously after using the controller to set way points. It still has the cameras all over the air frame to help its obstacle avoidance. The X2D and 2+ drones have about a 1m safety bubble programmed in. So if it senses something that would breach that 1m bubble then it will not fly through or near it.

    The dual sensor on the X2D is a Flir boson thermal core with a resolution of 320×256.

    The Skydio 2+ retail starts at $1099 while the X2D is a lot pricier at $12k for the base model. The autonomous flight, 3D scan, and night flying capabilities are well suite for miltary operations. They are also expanding the X2 into Enterprise for commercial use in building inspections as well as Law Enforcement for sears and rescue operations. I am curious to see how well the thermal system works but looking at the videos, the Flir Boson core is just not that great for hunting use. There are drones that are cheaper with better thermal sensors but lack the software and AI the the 2+ and X2D have. Hopefully we will get a closer look at thes drones in the future for a Friday Night Lights article.

    Go to their website for more information.

    Nicholas C

    Steadicam Gun Operator
    Night Vision & Thermal Aficionado
    Flashlight/Laser Enthusiast
    USPSA competitor

    Any questions please email him at [email protected]