Sony Enters Drone Market with Airpeak S1

Set for release this fall, the drone is compatible with Sony Alpha 1, Alpha 7S, Alpha 7R, Alpha 9 and FX3 cameras.

Sony Electronics, Inc., will launch its first drone this fall, the Airpeak S1.

An introductory model in the new Airpeak line, the aircraft can be equipped with a full-size mirrorless interchangeable-lens Alpha camera. It is compatible with the Alpha 7S series, the Alpha 7R series, the Alpha 9 series, the FX3 and the 8K-capable Alpha 1.

It uses a proprietary motor, propeller, control system and sensing technology that allow it to fly at high speeds with stable wind resistance. It also features: an advanced remote controller that can support the production of high-quality aerial images and freely control the aircraft, obstacle detection, automatic flight control via sensing, and increased safety via cloud management of the aircraft and flight information.

“We are excited to launch our new drone business with the Airpeak S1,” says Yang Cheng, vice president of Imaging Solutions, Sony Electronics, Inc. “Combining an extremely compact size with some of Sony’s most advanced imaging, sensing, AI and robotics technologies, the S1 will allow content creators to capture that which they’ve never been able to capture before.” 

The drone’s capabilities include the ability to fly up to 55 mph, a maximum angular velocity of 180 degrees and a maximum tilt angle of 55 degrees. Propulsion technology using a combination of Sony-developed devices provides wind resistance in wind speeds up to 44.7 mph.

In addition to the lightweight, sturdy and responsive 17" propeller and brushless motor, the Airpeak S1 is equipped with an Electric Speed Controller for optimal control of these components. A high-performance flight-control system integrates the propulsion device and all sensor information to ensure stable flight and high maneuverability.

Stereo cameras equipped with Sony’s image sensors are installed in five locations on the aircraft (front, back, left, right and bottom). Sony’s Vision Sensing Processor, which processes camera data at high speed and with low power consumption, is used with proprietary algorithms to estimate the aircraft’s spatial position and orientation in real time, enabling stable flight even in environments where GNSS reception might be hindered, such as indoors or under bridges. 

The Airpeak S1 uses multi-directional sensors to enable its obstacle-braking function. The front, rear, left and right stereo cameras and the infrared range-finding sensor mounted on the top recognize obstacles in the vicinity of the aircraft, allowing the aircraft to automatically decelerate and stop.

The drone includes Airpeak Flight, an iOS- and iPadOS-compatible application that integrates the aircraft, transmitter, camera and gimbal, allowing the operator to monitor flight distance and remaining battery power and change various operations and settings on the screen.

The Airpeak S1 also includes a dual-operation mode so that one user can operate the drone while another operates the gimbal and camera simultaneously, all while checking the same image. The First Person View camera, which can be tilt-operated from the remote controller, is mounted on the nose of the aircraft.

The drone also includes Airpeak Base, a web application that allows the operator to manage equipment, create flight plans and manage flight logs. In the equipment management, information on the equipment used is automatically listed and managed based on the flight log. This allows the operator to check the condition of the aircraft before going to the field, minimizing on-set issues.

With Airpeak Base, the operator can create advanced flight plans and automatically fly the aircraft along the same course repeatedly. It is able to set the position (latitude, longitude and altitude) and speed of the aircraft along the timeline and specify the orientation of the gimbal and the timing of video or still-image shooting. It can also draw smooth curves on the map. Reproduction flight is an automatic flight function that reproduces the flight route, gimbal and camera moves based on the flight logs that have flown in the past.

All aircraft information, including logs, can be uploaded to the cloud via the mobile app Airpeak Flight. Airpeak Base allows users to check the status of the aircraft and can provide notifications if necessary. Users can manage the status of all managed aircraft in one place before flight. Past flight logs can be viewed on the logbook screen, and details such as in-flight errors can also be reviewed.

Airpeak Plus, a cloud service that allows users to use Airpeak Base, and Airpeak Protect Plan, a service plan to cover accidental damage to the product, will be available to customers. 

The Airpeak S1 will list for $9,000 and will ship with two pairs of propellers, a remote controller, two batteries and a battery charger. A third-party gimbal designed for the Airpeak S1 will be sold separately.

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