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  • (upbeat music)

  • - [Sean] The Skydio 2 is not your typical drone.

  • This drone flies itself and is practically crash-proof.

  • It can follow you down a trail automatically dodging trees

  • because it's always mapping out the world

  • with six fish-eye cams.

  • The company says that three year olds can fly this drone,

  • and it's kinda true.

  • - I flew it away.

  • It went away.

  • Gone.

  • I did it.

  • - But you're not gonna be buying this $999 drone

  • for your three year old, who isn't actually four.

  • Instead of diving into every single feature of this drone,

  • we're gonna do things a little bit differently.

  • We're testing with three different people who wanna use

  • drones in ways they've been afraid to use them before.

  • First there's Felicia.

  • She's a novice who's never flown a drone in her life.

  • I'll go second.

  • I'm more of a drone hobbyist and I've always wanted

  • a flying camera that could follow me around.

  • Lastly, there's Vjeran.

  • He's a pro who's rarely seen without a drone on his back.

  • - Right out the gate, I had some choices to make.

  • There's a bunch of different ways to fly this drone.

  • With your phone, a beacon, a phone-beacon combo

  • or the new Skydio controller.

  • Set-up took longer than i expected,

  • there's a lot of syncing involved.

  • I flew it with the controller for the first time.

  • It took me a second to get the controls right,

  • so what ended up happening is it went over a bunch of people

  • and they started panicking, and I started panicking,

  • and I feel better with it now, I just,

  • I was, it was not fun.

  • I was so nervous, really nervous.

  • But I spent another 10 minutes or so with the controller

  • and was able to get some nice footage like this.

  • I flew the drone over a broken pier to get

  • closer to the boats, until I was attacked by seagulls.

  • - [Sean] You want me to take over?

  • - Yes, please.

  • I panicked the seagulls freaked me out.

  • And then we came over here to use the wand.

  • Which I was convinced was gonna be way easier but actually

  • I found to be a little more stressful because

  • I didn't feel like I had as much control over the drone

  • when people and water and things happened,

  • I didn't feel confident that I could fix it,

  • so I actually found that the wand was easier to use

  • but a little bit more stressful overall.

  • For my first few flights, I wanted to see if you can fly

  • the Skydio 2 with little to no instruction,

  • which I did but I had a feeling the drone

  • can do a lot more and it can.

  • There are a number of built in modes like dronies

  • and cinematic tracking shots.

  • It's honestly not that intuitive.

  • All the automated features hide behind menus

  • but once you figure out how to use them,

  • you can do some pretty cool things.

  • I liked controlling the drone with the phone versus

  • either of the optional controllers.

  • Once I had more time in the air I definitely felt

  • more comfortable flying it and even started having fun.

  • I trusted the drone enough to take it off and land it on

  • my hands and never felt like I was gonna crash the thing.

  • My only wish is that the Skydio 2 had a panic button

  • that would bring the drone back to me safely

  • away from people for those moments when I felt

  • like I was just in a bit over my head.

  • - First, let me show you this gorgeous clip

  • of some doofus on a scooter.

  • So you can see what the Skydio is like at its best.

  • This is tracking me with Skydio's cameras alone.

  • Notice it's ducking under trees

  • and swooping around branches.

  • Next, I gave it a tougher challenge going full speed

  • on my bicycle, taking Skydio's

  • range-extending GPS beacon along for the ride.

  • I love that it let the drone come find me even when

  • I thought I'd left it in the dust,

  • but the footage wasn't always as dynamic as I'd like.

  • I imagined myself diving through trees with the skydio,

  • but the drone would sometimes just go around and see here

  • how it looks like the drone's totally lost me.

  • This is a weird quirk.

  • The Skydio's still tracking me

  • but the camera's pointed the wrong way.

  • Though the Skydio did eventually turn around

  • and find me again.

  • And look at this.

  • I was super impressed with this footage of the drone

  • following me under a bridge.

  • I felt like I needed that beacon.

  • Without it, Skydio's cameras

  • just couldn't keep up with my bike.

  • Here's the same path you saw me take

  • with the beacon without it.

  • Time after time, the drone got stuck behind foliage.

  • You could drive a small truck through no problem.

  • This drone just does not wanna hurt itself.

  • Even when I was manually piloting it,

  • the Skydio 2 refused to fly through some spaces

  • I'd have no trouble flying a regular drone.

  • But the Skydio 2 isn't smart enough to stay out of trouble.

  • Here's the moment it decided to fly over someone's

  • private property for a no particularly good reason.

  • Here's the moment I realized a train might be about

  • to pancake this drone and no easy way to stop it.

  • And here's the moment it freaked out in downtown

  • San Francisco and nearly electrocuted itself.

  • But the main reason I'm not buying Skydio right now

  • is the rough, unfinished software.

  • It always takes way too long to get it up in the air,

  • whether it's a failed WiFi link,

  • waiting ages for a GPS lock, or one of the weird glitches

  • where the controller refuses to connect.

  • And why?

  • Even though the Skydio knows how to find a safe landing zone

  • by itself, will it crash if you manually

  • tell it to land on safely?

  • - All right, it's camera time.

  • So let's address the elephant in the room right?

  • This drone is supposed to compete with DJI flagship drones

  • but it has a lot smaller sensor.

  • So it's not really a fair comparison.

  • Compared to the original Skydio, the Skydio R1,

  • this is a massive leap forward but that is a low low bar.

  • compared to the other drones that use the similar size

  • sensor, you pretty much know what to expect.

  • Crisp 4K footage and some noise.

  • Skydio does have some of its own limitations.

  • For one, you can only film in one color profile mode.

  • There's nothing like a flat center-like profile which

  • usually gives you a little bit more room for coloring.

  • You can even adjust that one standard profile that you have

  • but if that's what you want,

  • you'll be pleased with the overall results.

  • The colors look accurate, white balance is on point

  • like 99% of the time and overall in sharpness, it's great

  • as long as you're shooting a very low ISO: 100, 200.

  • Here are a few clips I filmed in a fairly well lit warehouse

  • where I still have to crank up the ISO to 400 and 800

  • and I'm not really a fan of what I got here.

  • Skydio also shoots in HDR.

  • It looks better than some of the other HDR modes

  • that I've tried out like Parrot anafi

  • meaning it's not as aggressive but to me I see more changes

  • in color rather than in exposure and those color

  • changes often look a bit too saturated and unreal.

  • All right, let's move on to photos.

  • The JPEG that you get out of this drone,

  • they look pretty good.

  • There's not a lot of chromatic aberration

  • just look fairly sharp.

  • The only issue is again with the noise

  • that starts creeping in as you keep raising the ISO.

  • Basically, anything above 100 ISO looks pretty noisy to me.

  • It's still usable and looks fine on smaller screens.

  • So y'all Instagramers will be pleased.

  • You'll be happy to know that you can shoot RAW photos,

  • which gives you a bit more flexibility in editing.

  • But I feel like there's one thing missing

  • which is more photos specific mode.

  • Stuff like 360 spherical photos or vertical photos

  • or 180 panoramas.

  • Maybe next year, or in the next update.

  • As we have established before

  • there are four ways of flying this drone.

  • My preferred way is flying it with the controller.

  • It's just what I'm used to and it gives me more control

  • to get that cinematic footage that I want.

  • This controller right here,

  • it's the very same controller that you get with Parrot anafi

  • and I never liked it.

  • I still don't.

  • It feels bulkier than it needs to be

  • and some of the buttons don't actually do much.

  • It all feels just a bit unfinished.

  • Oh, on top of all one of the joysticks broke in Felicia's

  • backpack, so yep, still not loving this controller.

  • Okay, let's move on to the app.

  • The Skydio app is fairly straightforward,

  • maybe a bit too straightforward for my liking,

  • there's no way to quickly glance at it

  • to check your settings without opening a separate menu

  • which then covers most of your screen.

  • And there's no way to tell distance and the height

  • of the drone, which is why

  • I can't tell you exact range numbers.

  • Skydio promises around two miles of range

  • in perfect conditions and I definitely

  • didn't get anywhere close to that.

  • Plus the transmission quality is nowhere near DJI's.

  • The video feeds get choppy and pixelated even when

  • you can still easily spot the drone with your naked eye

  • which you definitely should because that's how

  • you're legally supposed to fly your drone.

  • But my overall flying experience was pretty good.

  • The drone behaves well in the air,

  • it has nice smooth acceleration and can slow down quickly

  • if it senses an obstacle.

  • I can see myself using this drone instead of the Mavic 2

  • for specific tracking features, like this shot right here.

  • But still, flying this drone straight into a building and

  • hoping it will avoid it is a scariest way to fly a drone.

  • It's definitely a surreal kind of frightening feeling,

  • which I didn't enjoy at times.

  • Like right here.

  • I was so damn nervous I was going to crash the drone

  • or worse hurt someone but Skydio handled it well.

  • I do wish there was some visual indication

  • on the screen telling you, okay, I see the thing.

  • And you're good, I'll avoid it.

  • Skydio made some clear choices which point towards

  • who they're tryna score

  • and I don't think I'm in that targeted audience.

  • You will get some nice looking footage from this drone.

  • And you can get tracking shots which no other drone

  • can get unless you're really exceptional at flying.

  • But if you wanna have full control over your flying

  • and you're filming, this drone probably isn't for you.

  • And finally, I wanna spend a second

  • talking about the built of this thing.

  • I think it looks really nice.

  • Materials look solid, the gimbal feels robust.

  • It is exposed however, so in case you do crash this thing,

  • it's probably gonna get damaged.

  • But this drone isn't gonna crash, right?

  • - Skydio can do things no other drone can.

  • We flew it in and around trees and obstacles for hours,

  • and we only managed to crash it by landing on a bad surface.

  • It's a drone, an absolute beginner can learn to fly

  • without fear, even if there are too many ways to control it.

  • And none of them are terribly intuitive.

  • It can be your self-flying camera with caveats,

  • and it could get a professional some shots

  • they can't get any other way

  • if they're satisfied with the image quality.

  • We just also get the sense

  • this self-flying drone vision isn't quite complete.

  • Maybe there's something better like a Skydio 2 pro perhaps

  • or a Skydio 3.

  • If you wanna know more about the Skydio 2's tech, specs,

  • or how it was made, check out our hands on video that we

  • filmed at their headquarters in Mountain View, California.

  • They build and test it right there.

(upbeat music)

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