A friend of mine recently bought a pretty spiffy truck. He also has a drone. And recently, as we were admiring his new vehicle–which he’s kind of in love with–I said I bet he could shoot video of it while driving on some dirt road somewhere.
Turns out, not so much. His drone can’t do that. Nor can most consumer flying cameras. But now, the Skydio R1, a $2,500 follow-me drone I wrote about in February, can. Today, Redwood City, California-based Skydio rolled out its first big software update, and the most exciting new feature was the ability to track cars on the go.
The R1 is able to track vehicles, as well as people, and other objects, thanks to a system of 13 on-board cameras that let it map and understand what it sees in real-time. That system also allows the drone to work largely autonomously, which means you can launch it and it just follows–and shoots photos or video.
Obviously, no one wants drones flying alongside cars and trucks on crowded public roads, but Skydio sees this feature as being ideal for filming, say, my friend’s 4×4 truck on an off-road trail or a beach, or a golf cart on a course somewhere. Clearly, this is going to be something that needs to be carefully navigated: One accident, and there will be hell to pay. But hopefully people will be careful, and always have a passenger, or someone standing on the road itself, doing the actual controlling. Safety concerns aside, I suspect we’re going to be seeing some cool videos going forward.