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Skydio Is Working On Smart Drones That Won’t Crash

BY Alan Perlman
16 February 2015

Adam Bry, co-founder of Skydio, thinks that drones crashing will no longer be an issue in the next five years. His company is certainly helping with that, as Skydio develops products that allow drones to avoid obstacles and make movements on their own, without dealing with buggy GPS systems, by simply using their on-board cameras. They have the goal of making it easy for anyone to fly a drone, which will only happen when navigation can be handled by a drone itself if need be.

Skydio products will use what is called a “drone visual cortex” to analyze live video coming from drone cameras and instantly convert it into a 3D map of the surroundings around the drone — data that the drone can use to make decisions on its own in real time. Skydio will also create opportunities for drones to identify their owners, track them through their camera systems, and safely follow them wherever they go on auto-pilot. Auto-pilot routes can also be pre-planned by marking locations that need to be reached on a flight, which the drone navigation system will use and complete the route to your exact specifications.

Andreessen Horowitz and Accel Parters wanted in when they heard about all this good stuff, hitting Skydio with a $3 million funding round. The funds are being used to get the Skydio product to market, starting with assembling the customized hardware, as Skydio is still only working with prototypes. The company does plan to create relationships with drone manufacturers and work directly with them, with the goal of having their products in the air by the end of the year.

In the meantime, Skydio has put together a magic wand technology for drones, which allows you to simply point any direction with your phone and your drone will follow. This means no more annoying joysticks.

Check out this Skydio demo video:

Skydio: Product Testing

Skydio has an impressive team behind all this, including co-founder Adam Bry, CXO Matt Donahoe, and CTO Abe Bachrach. Like so many innvoative companies, Skydio got its first traction around the MIT campus. Bry orignially came up with the technology that would be the basis of Skydio while completing his Master’s thesis — a fixed-wing drone that could fly on auto-pilot without the use of GPS. Bry and Bacharac also worked together on Project Wing at Google, which was the work that pushed them to start Skydio.

Donahue recently said, “I think drones are going to be the most incredible creative tools we’ve seen in a long time,” in a TechCrunch article.

We look forward to seeing what Skydio puts out in the coming months.


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