New Skydio 2/2+ Features: Panorama, Nav Camera Live View, & Keyframe Improvements!
What's going on, guys? Billy here, and Skydio has partnered up with me for this video to give away a Skydio 2+ Pro kit, which comes with the drone, three extra batteries, the beacon, the remote controller, and this hard case. Literally, everything that you need to get the most out of this drone. So be sure to stick around to the end to learn more about how to enter.
So anyway, Skydio just released an update that came out today for their Skydio 2 and 2+ drones, which adds new skills, improves skills already available on the drone, enhances some of the miscellaneous features, and overall makes the flight experience better.
This list here is the patch notes that accompany that update, which you can screenshot if you'd like to read a little more, because now we're gonna go in depth through each of these changes one by one to get a better look at what.
Skydio Panorama Skill
So the first thing that I want to cover here is the new Panorama Skill. This is something that usually comes standard on most drones that you can purchase, but the way that Skydio has implemented it into their drones really changes the way that you see the world around you as you're flying. Within the Panorama shooting mode, there are three different capture options, horizontal, vertical, and spherical.
The horizontal and vertical shooting mode captures 180-degree images in their respective directions. While spherical is obviously a full 360-degree, stitched image. You can also select your camera setting, so whether the camera determines the exposure value and then uses the same settings for each photo or whether it determines the exposure independently for each photograph that it captures, which then stitches together to make that panorama.
Once you've selected your desired capture type, the drone will tick through a progression of capturing photos, which are then stitched together to create that panorama. This is nothing groundbreaking, but the way that you frame up your shots has been completely revolutionized. I know it might sound like I'm over-exaggerating, but Skydio has really solved one of my biggest problems with shooting panoramas, and that is the framing of my image.
So typically, when I'm trying to compose my panorama, I have to look through the single middle frame of that panorama. Using the camera focal length that I have on my drone. So sometimes, I shoot a little bit too wide. Sometimes, I'm a little bit too tight. Sometimes, I don't position my image properly, and therefore, it's kind of like a guessing game.
For example, flying down to this pier here in Ocean City, New Jersey, would be for an epic panorama shot to show off the water, the stand, the boardwalk, the sky, and, of course, the pier itself.
The only issue is that with the tight focal length of the camera, I'm not sure what my final output would look like. With Skydio's panorama shooting mode, though, we can use the drone's six navigation cameras to see the exact frame that our panorama would output. This allows me to properly frame my shot and then tap capture to begin the process. This totally takes the guesswork out of capturing these panoramas.
Using the Navigational Cameras
This is the first time that we've been able to access these six navigation cameras and actually use them while flying, and even though it makes for a really good way to frame up your panoramas, I've been using it to have a little bit more fun on the side as an FPV camera. Now, while the picture quality certainly isn't as sharp as what we would get from the main camera when you're flying around, the field of view is super wide.
You can vaguely see the outline of the drone and the antennas on top, but it's not to the point where it ruins the experience of flying. In fact, it's kind of cool to see which direction the drone is banking as you're moving around. This wouldn't necessarily be helpful for getting better video. But it purely provides a different experience that's just fun to zip around using.
This view from the navigation cameras, of course, also helps a ton when capturing vertical panoramas as the guessing work of how you need to frame your shot is completely gone.
What I find the wildest though, is the view that comes from switching to these spherical capture type, which then displays a stretched 360 image from all six of the navigation cameras in real-time, which at first can be kind of hard to understand, but once you get some time to get used to it, it offers a totally different way to see the world when flying with your drone. It's like the ultimate FPV camera because you can see around the entire drone all at the same time.
Flying with this new software here on my Skydio has kind of got my mind racing in terms of how this real-time, 360-degree view could be used in the future for different applications. So, of course, this update was done to Skydio's consumer level of drones.
But could you imagine the commercial applications for a live real-time, 360-degree view from your drone? For example, let's see, you're trying to clear out a home. You're in law enforcement. You get a full 360-degree view in real-time from the drone. That really gives you a lot of situational awareness.
Also, let's say you're trying to conduct aerial inspections, and you're in a tight area where you're maybe not able to see what's around the drone. Well, now you can flip to this 360 view and get a full view around the drone without having to spin it around.
Now, I should mention that amongst other features within Skydio's Enterprise software Super Zoom is a feature that actually makes use of all these navigation cameras. But as I mentioned, this is the first time that we've seen this feature being able to access these navigation cameras in a consumer software release from Skydio.
Now the horizontal panorama shooting mode is definitely my favorite, and using this new view from the navigation cameras lets me explore the environment and seek out potential photographs that I may not have been able to see before. I've really never utilized Panorama shooting on other drones, but being able to now see what the actual photo will look like makes me want to use it way more.
Just as a quick tip before we move on here, the stitching of the pan happens once you land your drone, so don't land, and then turn it right off. Wait for the process to be finished by checking the status on your Skydio app. Now, the output resolution of the horizontal photos is 12,000 by 3000, while the vertical photo is just flipped at 3000 by 12,000, I found that the way to get the most of your panoramas is to save the raw DNG files and merge them together yourself in Lightroom or Photoshop.
The exported JPEG from the drone itself will get the job done, but editing those raw files gives you a lot more flexibility. Overall, the final result is these epic cinematic frames that encompass a large area.
The widescreen aspect ratio is epic for capturing landscapes and cityscapes and is something that I will definitely continue to experiment with. If you have a Skydio, I'd recommend going and capturing some photos of your own, but if you don't own one yet, I'll leave a download link in the description for you to try stitching some of my images that I've captured for yourself.
Skydio 2, and 2+ Keyframe feature
Now moving on here, Keyframe is a feature that Skydio added to the Skydio 2 and 2+ at the beginning of this year, the beginning of 2022. So that means that we're coming up on about a year of using Keyframe here with our drones. And over time, over the past year, through firmware updates, we've gotten some great improvements that has made Keyframe better, and Skydio hasn't stopped, as with this newest update, we've got some more improvements here to Keyframe.
This go-round, Skydio has added the ability to roll the gimbal while flying. So the clip that you're watching here is from a Keyframe flight. And to be clear, the gimbal roll is only available in Keyframe. You can't actively roll your gimbal while flying manually.
Nonetheless, this adds another layer of customization to make your footage feel more immersive, rather than just flying around corners with the gimbal locked at zero degrees to the horizon, the camera banks, with the drone's movement.
Now, the way that I started creating my Keyframe flights is by manually setting the gimbal roll each time that I would set a new Keyframe, I felt like every time I was setting a point, I was playing a guessing game about what would look natural and what would look fake. I also had to try and time this right with the speed of the drone because if I was flying at, say, only five miles an hour, and the camera was banking like crazy to the side, it would just kind of look weird.
More recently, I started setting my Keyframe points without any gimbal roll at all and then toggled my Keyframe settings to the dynamic gimbal roll. So the gimbal would automatically add a natural amount of roll in between points.
This ended up giving me a much better, more natural result while also saving me time. So in the end, it was a win-win. I'd love to see Keyframe get better, and adding the option of rolling the gimbal gives you the ability to get FPV-like shots with a touch of a button that are repeatable so you can continue to run the same Keyframe mission over and over and over again.
Speaking of repeatable emissions, Skydio has also made improvements to Keyframe through the vision positioning system, which uses the six navigation cameras around the drone to help it perceive the world around it, collect data, and ultimately fly by itself. Fly autonomously through its environment.
Now, to make sure I get things right here, I'm going to read the three bullet points from their patch note. So it says, we've improved Keyframe to greatly reduce drift and increase accuracy for long distances and when loading and replaying Keyframes. This means that replaying Keyframe in the same flight will result in less drift over time. And reloading Keyframe over multiple flights is now more reliable.
I actually spent a good hour running the same Keyframe mission over and over and over again, landing, charging batteries, and doing everything I could to try and throw Keyframe off, but for the most part, it was rock solid and holding its flight path close to how I had originally set it up. I hope that in the future, we can have a task library with pre-planned missions saved to call back on in the future, no matter when we come back to that location.
But for now, as long as you follow the best practices for Keyframe, you'll get much better results across.
Low battery return-to-home feature
So the new Panorama skill and the improvements made to Keyframe are by far the biggest changes here in this update, but Skydio didn't stop there, as we do have a few more things that are worth mentioning.
The first of which is low battery return-to-home, which is an enhanced safety feature that allows the Skydio to monitor its distance from the home point and determine how much battery is required to get back home. When it hits this point, the drone will prompt you with an option to return-to-home, accompanied by a warning that the battery is low.
This is based on your distance from the home point. So, it is always evaluating how much juice you need to get back home. To enable this skill, go to the settings, then select the drone menu section, choose return behavior, and scroll down to the low battery section to enable this setting. Just know that for low battery return to home the work, you need to have a home point set.
You might wonder why Skydio is just now implementing this into their drones after other drones have had it built in for years. But you've gotta realize that Skydio's drones were built to do something entirely different than most drones on the market and that is fly with you, move with you. So typically, a lot of people are using this drone to follow them away from their launch point, away from their home point.
So that means that if you were, say, skiing down a mountain and the drone returned to home by itself because it had a low battery, it would then go and fly to the top of the mountain where you launched from. Then you would have to hope nobody steals it. You'd have to go and get back onto the lift. You'd have to go to the top, you'd have to get the drone, and replace the battery.
So that would be annoying, and that's why this feature was never built in, but I'm glad they did add it. Now, eventually, for those of us that would prefer to just use a remote controller and fly the drone traditionally.
Skydio app improvements
On top of this, the telemetry section of the Skydio app has become more feature-rich, showing you the gimbal pitch displayed in degrees and the compass section that shows you exactly which direction you're facing. This is also displayed in degrees and shows you the cardinal direction that you're facing.
This will be really helpful for navigating from point to point or trying to find your way back to where you launched from. The final big change that I want to cover was kind of tucked towards the bottom of the patch notes, but I think it's important to discuss because if you use it in a certain way, you can potentially change how your drone operates when using the motion track flight.
Prior to this update, the minimum height ceiling was 30 feet, but now you can lower that all the way down to 9.4 feet. So basically, you can tell your drone, don't fly above nine and a half feet, which can make for some very immersive motion track flights as it forces the drone to stay lower to the ground.
Okay, so that wraps up the update portion of this video. I've got to give huge props to Skydio for continuing to extend the lifespan of the Skydio 2 and the Skydio 2+ through these firmware updates.
With every new update, we get these fresh, new features that make the drone feel new again. It gives us new experiences, and they're doing a really good job at making their customers happy because they can buy one piece of hardware and continue to get new experiences for years to come.
So again, big props to Sky for doing that because I think that they're really setting the trend in the industry. That is for the good.
Skydio 2+ Giveaway
Okay. Now, let's move into the rules or the directions on how to enter the Giveaway to win a Skydio 2+ Pro kit. Again, you've got the drone itself, the three batteries, the Beacon, the remote controller, some other accessories that all come inside this nice hard case here.
So there are three simple things that you need to do. First, you need to follow me on Instagram at Billy Kyle. Then go over to Skydio's Instagram and give them a follow. Their handle is @SkydioHQ. And then finally, click the link in the description to head over to my personal website, fill out that form so that I know all the people who once entered to potentially win a Skydio 2+ Pro Kit.
And with that, good luck to all who enter. I really don't do many giveaways, so I've gotta give a huge shoutout to Skydio for helping me give back to the drone community and help someone else experience the awesomeness that comes with the Skydio 2+ here, and how it's able to fly on its own.
Again, it's something you need to really experience for yourself to understand just how powerful this drone is.
Anyway, guys, thank you so much for watching, and as always, I'll talk to you later. Peace.
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