Skydio 2 could be the first drone to give DJI a serious challenge

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skydio2
We've never seen a drone like this.
Photo: Skydio

Skydio may have finally created the first drone that I can’t crash.

Every single drone I’ve owned or tested from DJI, Parrot and even Skydio has crashed. With the Skydio 2 unveiling today, the smartest drone in the sky just got smarter, smaller and more affordable at the same time.

Thanks to its Mavic and Phantom line of drones, DJI has dominated the consumer drone space for years without any solid competition. Parrot’s Anafi drone was the first decent Mavic Pro competitor we had seen but it had a lot of flaws. The Skydio 2 actually looks like a legit contender though and will draw some lustful looks from DJI loyalists.

What sets Skydio 2 apart

When Skydio let me test their first drone last year they basically pitched it not as a drone but as an entire portable production team. It’s auto-following AI tech was absolutely mindblowing. This year’s model is even better thanks to the NVIDIA Jetson TX2 GPU powering the drone. It’s basically a flying supercomputer.

Almost every drone now has some form of obstacle avoidance. None of them are as good as Skydio’s. It’s straight magic. With six 4K cameras, Skydio 2 can see more detail than its predecessor. Anyone that’s into action sports but don’t want to be stuck flying a drone should probably consider this as the best option out there to get killer follow-cam shots.

One of my biggest complaints with the Skydio 1 was that you couldn’t manually pilot it with a controller to get those long sweeping cinematic landscape shots you can get on DJI’s drone. Skydio 2 fixes that with an optional controller that extends the drone’s range to 3.5km. There’s also a cool new Beacon accessory that tracks you through GPS even when the camera can’t see you.

Skydio 2’s camera comes with most of the standard features you’d expect: 4K HDR at 60fps, 1080p at 120fps for slo-mo and 12MP HDR photos. The camera gimbal picked up an awesome new trick that lets it point above the drone. This was one of my favorite features on the Parrot Anafi. That drone didn’t have Skydio’s insane obstacle avoidance though and I ended up crashing it while flying underneath a bridge on the Olympic Peninsula trying to get sick footy.

All those features are awesome but the best part of Skydio 2 is it’s 50% smaller. Not only has the body of the drone shrunk down to something you can put in a backpack, but they also cut half of its price tag off. Despite its limited but impressive feature set, the Skydio 1 was pretty impossible to consider buying given its $2,000 price tag. The Skydio 2 only costs $1000. Additional accessories cost $149 each, so you’d be looking at about $1300 for the package. By comparison, DJI’s Mavic 2 runs for $1,729.

I haven’t actually played with the Skydio 2 yet so I’ll hold judgment until then, however, on paper it looks like Skydio 2 has enough sauce to make some serious noise.