Skyfish Launches Autonomous Commercial Drone Platform that Carries Alpha Cameras—Just Like the Sony Airpeak

BY Zacc Dukowitz
21 January 2021

American drone company Skyfish just unveiled an autonomous commercial drone platform.

Photo credit: Skyfish

The platform includes:

  • Two new autonomous commercial drones called the Skyfish M4 and M6
  • A unique “ruggedized” remote control called the Skyfish C1
  • A customer data center called the Skyportal
  • Flight planning and navigation software called Skyfish Mission Control
  • A long-lasting battery system

Of course, the two drones are the main focus of the launch.

They are both big, tough drones that can fly for an impressive 60 minutes without a payload. These drones have several potential uses cases, but the primary ones are:

  • Cell tower inspections
  • Power line inspections
  • Wind farm inspections
  • Surveying
  • Fire fighting

A standout feature of both drones is their ability to carry various payloads, including sensors like electro-optical, thermal, methane detection, LiDAR and—perhaps most notably—cameras from Sony’s Alpha series.

Specifically, the M4 and M6 can carry Sony’s Alpha series of A7 cameras, including the Sony A7 iv, Sony A7 iii, Sony A7 ii, the Sony QX series, and the Sony R10C, among others.

Sony’s Partnership with Skyfish

The Sony Alpha payload capability has driven a lot of buzz around the launch of the M4 and M6, and it’s the result of what appears to be a close partnership between Sony and Skyfish.

Sony just released its first drone at CES 2021 last week, called the Airpeak—and the Airpeak also carries Alpha cameras.

Unveiling the Airpeak Aircraft

But far from viewing Skyfish as a competitor, Sony seems to see it as a collaborator.

In fact, according to reporting by Sally French (aka the Drone Girl), members of Sony’s Alpha team visited the Skyfish offices just before the first quarantine started for COVID-19 to get feedback on the Sony API and SDK for the Alpha series.

The Skyfish team reportedly gets to see new functionality on Alpha cameras before they are released, and they’re also tapped for feedback on Sony’s technology roadmap for the Sony Alpha. The Skyfish website even has a tagline that reads “Skyfish and Sony—the best of friends.”

This amicable relationship is enabled by the different market segments each company has focused on with their new drones.

While the Airpeak is made for high-end cinematography, Skyfish’s new drones are clearly meant for commercial work.

But the partnership indicates that Sony is serious about its foray into the drone game, and is strategically positioning itself to make its cameras available to commercial sectors throughout the drone world.

A Skyfish drone being used to inspect a cell tower

About the Skyfish M4 and M6

The M4 and M6 both have impressive capabilities, including high speeds, long flight times, and heavy and variable payload capabilities.

Here are some standout specs for both the M4 and M6:

  • Flight time. Up to 60 minutes possible without a payload.
  • High resolution. Up to 61 megapixels, allowing for precise photogrammetry.
  • Speed. Up to 65 mph.
  • Highly accurate RTK. Deep RTK integration allows for precise locational accuracy, down to a centimeter.
  • Seamless integration. Skyfish makes everything in its autonomous platform, from the controller to the battery pack to the software, which means that every piece was made for the job it does rather than adapted from a third party.
  • Range of payloads. This might be the biggest feature of these two drones—using Skyfish’s Skymind technology, both can support almost any type of payload.

Here are a few more details about each drone.

The Skyfish M4

Photo credit: Skyfish

The Skyfish M4 is designed for photogrammetry and the creation of high-fidelity 3D reality models for engineering-grade inspection and the measurement of critical infrastructure.

Assets that the M4 is typically used to model include cell towers, bridges, gas refineries, and cooling towers.

The Skyfish M6

Photo credit: Skyfish

The Skyfish M6 is designed for heavier payloads and environment-aware robotic interactions.

For example, the M6 can carry 12 lbs for over 30 minutes and trigger BVLOS mechanical actions up to 5 miles away.

Excited about the launch of the Skyfish M4 and M6? Share your thoughts in this thread on the UAV Coach community forum.

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