So, this doesn't seem too bad of a spot to film, so why don't we cut right to it: Skydio X10. That is the new drone that we were introduced to today here at the Ascend event, and it is so much better than any of the previous drones that Skydio has released.
I got a chance to go hands-on with the drone today after the event in a few different demonstrations, and I even got a chance to fly the drone, but it was in a very limited capacity. The place that we got to fly was actually really cool; it was inside of Presidio National Park, so we got some really awesome views of the Golden Gate Bridge, which is behind me, and of the city skyline of San Francisco.
Using the new zoom camera on this drone was really cool to zoom in and catch all the details in the skyline and the bridge. But it also meant that we really didn't have all that much room to fly; we were really only flying over a baseball field inside of the park.
So, again, while it was a really cool location, we were very limited in what we could actually do with these drones.
For that reason, I really can't call this a first impressions or review video. Instead, it's more like a first look at what this drone can do. And believe me, there's quite a bit that we need to cover here.
So, I think the best way to go about structuring this video is the same way that Skydio structured their keynote. So, we'll first talk about the drone itself, then the camera, and then the autonomy and software solutions, because as we know, Skydio loves to innovate in that space.
Skydio X10 drone
From a top-down view, what is the Skydio X10? Well, it's the company's latest offering in the commercial drone space that is significantly improved in every area over their previous platforms.
I personally have had the most experience with their S2 platform, so this was their black and blue consumer-focused drone that was built to provide the best autonomous tracking experience in a drone.
I did plenty of videos here on my channel tracking myself on my OneWheel, my bike, my electric skateboard. It was really a fun drone to break out because you didn't have to worry about it crashing; it was always right there following along behind you.
If you missed the News, though, Skydio has exited the consumer drone space, meaning they're only making drones suited for commercial use, for inspections, law enforcement, military applications.
And I knew that with that announcement, they'd eventually come out with a new drone as well. So, that's what we have here today, the X10, which is their next-generation drone platform.
It's hard to look at the X10 and find a glaring weak point. Skydio has done a great job of listening to the industry and understanding what the end user wants.
This aircraft is lightweight and portable; it's built extremely well, completely modular with four mounting points and a swappable payload, and operates over a 5G connection. It has an upgraded version of their already incredible collision avoidance system, and the camera gives you the tools to collect actionable data through its different payloads and camera options.
This is legitimately everything that you would need to complete any mission with your drone successfully. You've got a great flight time of 40 minutes; you've got an awesome set of cameras and sensors that allow you to collect great data—high-resolution images and photos that are zoomed in and thermal. There are so many different options in that regard.
You've also got that autonomy system that allows even the most inexperienced pilot to collect actionable data and use their drone in a meaningful way.
Taking a deeper dive looking at the drone itself, the construction is solid, with folding arms to make it portable, fitting easily inside of a backpack.
All the main hardware is on the body of the drone itself. The arms are pretty bare; we, of course, have the motors with the tri-prop design.
There are LEDs on the end of each arm in the regular red and green configuration, but they also act as bright strobes, so no matter which way your drone is flying, you'll always be able to see one of these strobes in the air.
It's also worth mentioning that the antennas are in the feet to give you a better connection between the drone and the remote.
Just as a quick note on those propellers, this drone is insanely quiet. Like, that's the first thing I noticed when they flew this drone out on stage: it's silent, which is great for what you're going to be using it for, right? For military applications, for law enforcement applications, for even inspections where you don't want to disrupt the people on the ground, this drone is insanely quiet.
I mean, sure, you look at a mini drone that is sub-250 grams and it's small with small motors, so it doesn't make a lot of noise. But this drone, for its size, is very quiet.
Now, unlike previous Skydio drones, the navigation cameras have been brought to the middle of the body, whereas the S2 and X2 had the sensors pushed all the way to the end of the arms.
These are upgraded cameras as well, but we'll touch more on these when we get to the software and autonomy portion of this video.
Right in the middle of this top cluster of sensors is one of the four mounting points for auxiliary attachments. This interfaces with the drone through the USB-C port. Just under the weather-sealed flap on the side of the drone, there are two more mounting points that also have a USB-C port nearby for interfacing with the drone. So, you can mount one of the many attachments that'll be launching with the X10.
Now, the final mounting point is on the bottom side of the drone and is surrounded by a cluster of three more navigation cameras and two auxiliary LEDs for improved landing and flight performance in low-light scenarios.
Most of the space down here, though, is taken up by the battery, which is an absolute unit. It's slotted in very firmly and, in typical Skydio fashion, is held in place by a magnet. So, there isn't any click; it just locks into place, which is very satisfying.
It's also worth mentioning that there's a USB-C port on the back side of the drone for charging up the battery.
There's also a dual microSD card slot on the side of the drone. I got really pumped about it because I thought I was going to be able to write data to both of these cards at once—my photos and videos. But one of these slots is actually dedicated to recording and saving flight logs.
Now, for those of you interested in learning more about the mounts available, Skydio currently offers a Spotlight, a speaker and microphone combo, an RTK GPS, and an IR light for discreet nighttime flying. They also have a parachute designed by my good friends over at AVSS.
This modular system is also completely open through Skydio's Extend program, which opens Skydio's platforms to integrations, workflows, and offers tools for developers. So, we should expect some more cool modules in the future to complete more niche tasks.
Now, just to finish up our overview of the aircraft, here are some of the miscellaneous things that are important to know.
This is a very fast and versatile aircraft that can fly for 40 minutes, rain or shine. Its IP55 rating means that you can fly it in a rainstorm and still effectively conduct say a Search and Rescue mission.
The range is also pretty respectable at seven and a half miles, but with a 5G cellular connection, you can really fly however far your connection will take you. So long as your drone remote both have a cellular connection, you can fly.
This is one thing that I am really interested in checking out for myself once I can finally fly the drone in a nice open area. How far can I fly it? How far does that range actually take me? Can I get half a mile? Can I get a full mile? It's all going to depend on the area that you fly in and kind of like the conditions in terms of interference.
But again, I think that most people will fly over what Skydio is calling SkydioConnect. So this is their transmission system, and then they'll use 5G as a fallback option, or they'll use 5G if they're doing remote operations from one location to another.
Skydio X10 Camera
Now, let's talk about this camera, which has a really crazy design. It's mounted on the front of the drone and has this motion where it flips around when looking upwards. I was told that this design has a function; it's so that the gimbal doesn't block the navigation cameras.
The gimbal itself seems to have a huge range of motion, which gives you flexibility to look all the way up and all the way down.
Skydio actually has two different payloads with more on the way. The best way to understand the difference between them is to include this screenshot from Skydio's website.
So basically, the narrow and thermal camera are the same across both of these payloads. The only difference is that the VT300Z on the left has a third camera that gives you way more zoom at 190 millimeters, while the VT300L has a wider camera that has a full one-inch sensor.
It also has an integrated flashlight capable of outputting 2800 lumens, which is crazy bright. I'm really looking forward to checking out that flashlight because it seems crazy bright and stabilized by the three-axis gimbal, so the light will always be pointing directly towards the subject that you're trying to illuminate and look at.
So, I'm torn. Which of these cameras do you think would fit your workflow best? Do you prefer to have a zoom or a wider-angle camera with a much higher resolution and a much larger sensor? I guess it's going to come down to whatever you end up doing with your drone. What's going to suit your workflow best?
Now, these are swappable. You can take the payload off and put another camera on, but it's not recommended to be done often. You can only do it a certain number of times, and you can't do it in the field.
The reason behind this is because the connection is very fragile and requires tools to swap. You also need to be in a clean environment, which is why you can't do it in the field, like on a picnic table, where you could get dirt into that port.
You can just tell by looking at the connector; it is delicate and intricate. So, I can understand why this is, but I also wonder why Skydio wouldn't have spent the time to just make this more robust to be swapped on a daily basis for different applications.
Like, I would love to have one case that has one airframe inside of it and multiple cameras I could choose from depending on what I was doing on that day.
Do I need a wider camera to conduct a 3D scan mission of an accident or a building? Do I need a zoom camera to say conduct an inspection of a building? I want to be able to have those choices. While you do kind of have that choice with the Skydio X10, you're also very limited because of how many times you can swap the camera due to that fragile connection. So, it's great, but it's also kind of a letdown.
For those interested, here is the full list of specs regarding each of the different sensors. The photo resolution is pretty insane across the board because of the QuadBayer sensors that we're using, while the video is still capped at 4K, which provides plenty of detail.
I couldn't imagine a law enforcement agency that maybe isn't used to working with video files dealing with the massive size of an 8K video. I do it every single day, and I know that I even hate doing it.
Now, I think that if I had to choose between one of these cameras, one of these payloads, I'd probably end up going with the VT300L because of the one-inch sensor. Those photos and videos would be so crisp, and it would give me something that I'm normally used to in terms of the focal length.
Sure, it would be nice to have the further zoom of the VT300Z, but I just really wish that these were easily swappable on a regular basis so that I could have one airframe and a bunch of payloads to complete different tasks.
This is the point in my video where I'd show some example photos and videos to try and analyze the image quality, but I didn't get to take any images home with me from my flights that I conducted. I just didn't even think to put my SD card in and then take those photos and videos back to share with you.
I will say that Skydio has some great examples over on their website, but I'm not going to comment on the usage of this camera and the performance until I can actually get to use it for myself, which hopefully is in the coming weeks or months.
I've got no idea when this drone is releasing, but I can't wait to finally check it out for myself and then share my opinions with you guys.
Skydio X10 Autonomy
Now, let's move on to the final part of the video, which is autonomy. It all starts with the upgraded navigation camera hardware, which gives us ten times more pixels and thanks to the Nvidia Jetson Orange GPU, ten times more computing power as well.
Skydio has actually provided us with some technical specs for these cameras, which boast 32 megapixels per camera and have a wide field of view reaching 200 degrees. This more than covers every single side of the drone for true 360-degree optical avoidance.
It's so funny because when I think of a Skydio drone, I didn't think that obstacle avoidance was the one area that they needed to upgrade, but here we are with their next-generation drone with six 32-megapixel cameras, each having its own 200-degree field of view.
Now, I got a chance to kind of push the drone through some different obstacle courses that Skydio has set up throughout some of the different demonstration areas, but again, I'm not going to comment on the performance of the drone because it was very elementary in terms of what the drone was dodging.
I want to get it into a complex environment like a construction site, inside an abandoned building, maybe even bring it into the city and see how it fares, to really see how those upgraded sensors would fare in a more complex environment.
What's probably the biggest change, though, is the ability to fly at night, which was always an issue for Skydio's drones. Like they were light on their sensors, and when there's no light, they simply wouldn't fly.
The X10 here, though, uses a new night sense mode that relies on visible or infrared illumination to avoid obstacles and understand its environment. One of the attachments that Skydio offers is the visible and IR light module to help the sensors see in low light.
This autonomy also translates to Skydio's tracking capabilities. So, in coordination with the thermal camera, you can track subjects in the pitch dark.
I've been sitting here for like 30 minutes talking to the camera, and I feel like I am just scratching the surface in terms of what this drone is capable of and that's because I am; there is so much to cover on this new Skydio X10.
Things like the new remote controller, 3D scan, remote operations, the Skydio Dock, AI data capture, and so much more we're showing off here in the demonstrations that I simply couldn't fit it all here into one video.
I could literally sit here for hours and talk about the X10, but I want to wait and save the rest of my thoughts for when I actually get the drone in my hand so that I can test it out. I can kind of show you some things I'm talking about firsthand, like actually flying the drone.
Also, so I can come from a place of experience of having flown the drone and used it on jobs and things like that. As of right now, I just got some hands-on time and flew it in the baseball field, but hey, it was still a lot of fun.
Thank you so much to Skydio for inviting me out here to San Francisco to check out this beautiful city in some areas as well as their awesome new drone platform. This is a drone that's going to be able to get some very serious work done, and it's going to be a great option, especially if you need a drone that's made here in America, in the United States.
Anyway, thank you guys so much for watching. Let me know your thoughts on the Skydio X10 down below in the comment section, and as always, I'll talk to you later. Peace.
Get your Part 107 Certificate
Pass the test and take to the skies with the Pilot Institute. We have helped thousands of people become airplane and commercial drone pilots. Our courses are designed by industry experts to help you pass FAA tests and achieve your dreams.
Copyright © DroneXL.co 2023. All rights reserved. The content, images, and intellectual property on this website are protected by copyright law. Reproduction or distribution of any material without prior written permission from DroneXL.co is strictly prohibited. For permissions and inquiries, please contact us here.
FTC: DroneXL.co is an Amazon Associate and uses affiliate links that can generate income from qualifying purchases. We do not sell, share, rent out, or spam your email.