Three Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) alumni have come together to commercialize a “selfie drone,” as dubbed by some, to help dancers, runners, hikers, and rock climbers to film the best moments of their activity. The autonomous video-capturing drone is called R1 by San Francisco-based startup Skydio, which was launched in 2014 by the MIT alumni. It could freely navigate any environment to track and film a subject. It is said to launch and land all by itself or through an app. With the help of the app, users could control it manually or preset it to specific flying or filming conditions.
Lightweight Drone Fits into Average Backpack and Runs about US$2,500
The concept of R1 was birthed when Skydio cofounders started working on prize-winning, advanced autonomous drones, probably a decade before. Adam Bry SM ’12, said that the company’s goal with their first product is to stay on the promise of delivering an autonomous flying camera that could move by itself to film spectacular videos people wouldn’t otherwise be able to capture. Bry also said that such a camera should be able to understand the scene around it and where the user is. He also compared R1 with a driverless car having level-four autonomy.
R1 has a unique intelligence system, as Bry says, that integrates sophisticated algorithm components extending across control, planning, and perception. Its ease of use is compared to that of capturing images using an iPhone. It’s as easy as using a camera app, said the cofounder.