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Skydio's amazing obstacle avoidance or dumb luck?

Skydio 2’s amazing obstacle avoidance or dumb luck?

Check out this video on Youtube from Brandonee916 where he uses the autonomously flying Skydio 2 to film a Tesla Model 3 in full self-driving mode Beta on public roads in the Nevada desert. At one point in the video, we can see the Skydio 2 flying right in between two power lines or telephone wires crossing the road. Is that the drone’s amazing obstacle avoidance or just dumb luck?

Skydio’s amazing obstacle avoidance or dumb luck?

If the name Brandonee916, or the white Tesla Model 3 and Skydio combo, sounds familiar it is probably because you would have seen this video from October, in which he uses the same car to drive autonomously through an urban area while the Skydyio 2 follows him.

In this new video, at least Brandonee916 picked a much less congested area.

“TESLA #FSDBETA meets Skydio 2 Drone in the Nevada Desert. Finally did some amazing footage of FSDBETA testing, off-roading, beautiful scenery, all over Rye Patch, NV. Had an absolute blast taking the car in all sorts of challenging roads!” says Brandonee916.

However, before we go any further I should point out that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not allow driving and drone flying at the same time. As I explained in this article the FAA states that:

However, the FAA emphasizes that this rule will also prohibit careless or reckless operation of a small UAS. The FAA considers flying a small UAS while purposely distracted by another task to be careless or reckless. The FAA cannot envision at this time an instance of a person driving a vehicle while operating a small UAS in a safe manner that does not violate part 107.

So what happens at 1:21 in the video? Is that the Skydio s’s amazing obstacle avoidance or just dumb luck?

We know that depending on lighting conditions and the size of the object, the Skydio 2 drone might not be able to see power lines, especially when they show up suddenly and perpendicular to the drone’s flight path. Also the lack of adjustments made by the drone, i.e. slowing down or changing course, makes me believe that in this case the drone did not see the lines at all and just got lucky to fly right in between them.

Skydio 2's amazing obstacle avoidance or dumb luck?

Flying an autonomous drone from a moving vehicle is not just reckless flying as the FAA stated, it is also an all-around bad idea as Skydio warns that their Skydio 2 drone will NOT avoid other moving objects such as the tractor-trailer later in the video.

Your Skydio drone only avoids obstacles that are not in motion. Cars, boats, animals, other aircraft/UAS, other people, or similar moving objects may not be avoided if they’re moving, states Skydio.

It makes you wonder though…

Who is liable in case of a crash or accident when flying a Skydio 2 drone since the operator is never in full control (not even in manual mode). Who is the Pilot in Command and ultimately responsible? You or @SkydioHQ? Click To Tweet

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Here’s the other video.

The Part 107 and Skydio 2 Giveaway

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Haye Kesteloo

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