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New equipment: the Skydio 2+ drone flies autonomously

With the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show currently underway in Las Vegas, Nevada, California drone maker Skydio has announced its new Skydio 2+ drone, a mid-life update to the 2019 Skydio 2 model. But if you own the previous drone and find yourself staring at the upgrades of the new one with envy, there’s good news for your wallet.

The biggest upgrade of the new drone, a feature called “Keyframe, ”Is now available for free on the Skydio 2 (via the firmware update). KeyFrame is a new navigation feature that enables autonomous capture of pre-planned, complex, and cinematic camera movements (more details below).

Hardware upgrades – fly further and for longer

Related: The best drones for all skill levels

On the hardware side, Skydio 2+ has been upgraded in several key ways. The advertised flight time has increased by 17% compared to its predecessor, thanks to a new battery. And the flight range has also been improved by up to 71% thanks to an updated on-board radio and new top-mounted dual antennas located on the front of the drone’s rotor arms.

The camera and basic feature set, however, remain unchanged from the Skydio 2. The Skydio 2+ still uses a 12-megapixel 1 / 2.3-inch sensor, paired with a 20mm f / 2 equivalent lens. , 8.

Plan your cinematic shots with Skydio KeyFrame

We haven’t tested Skydio’s new KeyFrame feature yet, but it looks really cool / useful on paper. Skydio

The remarkable new feature of the Skydio 2+ – and its predecessor with an app update – is a smart new keyframe-based movie capture tool. With this, you can set some key points along the path you want the drone to follow, as well as the camera angles that are relevant to each point. The application will then calculate the best flight path to take between these points.

Once your route is set, you can preview the flight, adjusting the speed on the fly. Need to add additional points or modify existing points after reviewing your route? Simply pause the drone in its path and add new keyframes or edit existing ones. Deal with an unpredictable subject? Let the drone continue on its way while you take control of its camera on the fly!

That’s a hell of a feature, at least on paper. If it turns out to work just as well in the real world as it does in marketing videos, Skydio 2 owners who get this tech for free will be happy.

Increased range of controller and beacon

The new Skydio 2+ drone kit.
The new Skydio 2+ drone starts at $ 1,099. Skydio

The maximum range between the new Skydio 2+ and its controller, under ideal line-of-sight conditions, has increased by 71% at 3.7 miles (6 km), compared to its predecessor.

Skydio also sells updated “Beacon” GPS tracking, which pairs with a phone for a “follow me” style drone flight experience. The accessory also functions as a rudimentary controller. The maximum distance between the drone and this new Beacon has now doubled to 1.9 miles, compared to the old Beacon model. Users can still operate the drone using only their phone, but the range is limited to around 200m (660ft).

Improved battery life too

The flight range has also increased thanks to an updated battery with greater capacity. The old battery originally shipped with the Skydio 2 was capable of an estimated flight time of 23 minutes, while the new battery is expected to deliver over 27 minutes (under ideal flight conditions). The new higher capacity model is also backward compatible with previous Skydio drone models.

Skydio Care covers accidental loss or damage with a deductible

The new Skydio 2+ is available now.
The new Skydio 2+ is available now. Skydio

A final announcement from the company is its new Skydio Care plan, an optional supplement to the standard warranty. The plan covers accidental damage, including collisions, water damage, or hard landings, but comes with a cost of at least $ 150 for each replacement. You are limited to two damaged or lost drone replacements per year.

Pricing and availability

Pricing for the new Skydio 2+ starts from $ 1,099 with a battery, two aftermarket accessories, charger, and case. That’s a $ 150 increase over the most recent price for the Skydio 2, but $ 250 below its original list price. The Skydio Care plan can be purchased with your drone for $ 149 per year. The new drone is immediately available in the US market.

A Sports Pack adds two extra batteries, a dual charger, a 128GB Class V30 MicroSD card, and the new Beacon for $ 1,549. The Cinema Pack, on the other hand, adds two more accessories, PolarPro ND filters, a different case and a remote control to the Sports Kit for $ 1,949. Finally, the Pro package at $ 2,169 adds two other accessories, a tablet adapter for the controller and the Skydio Care plan.