Skydio Turns Your Phone Into a Crash-Proof Magic Wand for Flying Drones

By Adam Clark Estes on at

Fully autonomous flight is the future of consumer drones. But today's "autonomous" drone technology isn't foolproof. Now, a startup called Skydio wants to change that with a new kind of auto-pilot that uses a drone's camera.

Skydio's autonomous flight technology can turn your smartphone into a magic wand of sorts that lets you point your phone the direction you want the drone to go.

It works because Skydio turns the onboard camera into a so-called "drone visual cortex" that converts the 2D images from the lens into a 3D map of the surrounding environment. The drone then uses that map to avoid crashing into obstacles, including unsuspecting by-standers. The same data can be used for advanced Follow Me features, in which the drone knows where the users is and can then follow them.

For now, Skydio is still a prototype. The company did just get $3 million in investment from some very prominent venture capitalists, so there's a good chance we'll be seeing this smart technology out in the wild. Or rather, there's a good chance this smart technology will be seeing you — and ideally not crashing into you face-first. [TechCrunch and The Verge]

GIF by Nick Stango