Skydio's R1 Drone Expands to Apple Stores, Can Now Be Controlled via Apple Watch

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Oct 17, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Earlier this year, drone company Skydio introduced its first product, the self-flying R1 drone camera with advanced automation and tracking capabilities.

    The R1 was designed to be the first fully autonomous drone, able to work without the need for a person controlling its every movement. Prior to today, using the R1 was as easy as tapping a few buttons in the Skydio iPhone app, and now it's getting even easier.

    As of today, the R1 can be directed through a newly introduced Apple Watch app that provides one-tap controls and directives right on your wrist.

    The Skydio Apple Watch interface provides quick access buttons to set the R1 to follow you or a friend as well as options for doing tricks and stopping flight. While there are no manual controls available via the wrist, the R1 operates largely on its own. If you do want to control it manually, you'll need to do so through the iPhone app.

    MacRumors was able to give the R1 and the new Apple Watch app a try ahead of its launch, and it's as simple as Skydio describes. The R1 detects people in front of it, and with just a tap, it can be set to follow you, where it records everything you're doing as a sort of flying personal camera or photographer.


    The R1 is a hands-off action cam replacement that's fantastic for hiking, biking, skiing, and similar activities where you might want to capture action-oriented video without the hassle of controlling a drone.

    What's great about the R1 is that it has complex built-in obstacle avoidance capabilities. We wove it through trees and watched as it artfully dodged trunk after trunk with skill that even some advanced drone pilots would be unable to match.

    The R1 is able to avoid obstacles because it's outfitted with 13 cameras that can see in every direction and identify objects like trees, people, cars, and more, using that information to decide what to do and what to avoid.


    Once you set the R1 to auto follow mode, it basically flies itself, and there are some neat tricks that Skydio has programmed into it, such as the Boomerang that sends it flying forwards and backwards to capture a unique video shot.

    The Apple Watch app offers up little thumbnails of the people around so you can set it to follow someone (or yourself), and it uses the Digital Crown in a unique way -- a twist of the knob rotates the direction of the drone.

    Because it flies on its own, the R1 can do a series of neat little tricks, most of which are executable from the wrist. There are options for Dronie, Rocket, and Orbit, for example.

    A Dronie starts close and then zooms out and up for a birds-eye view of a scene, while a Rocket shot starts close and then zooms straight up. An Orbit shot, as the name suggests, spins around you slowly. The Apple Watch app also includes a feature to return the drone to back to its starting place at the iPhone and shut it down, so you can get a full flight from the wrist.


    Skydio's R1 basically flies itself and it needs so little interaction that it's simple to use right out of the box, even for those who have no drone piloting experience. All it takes is an iPhone for setup and it can be controlled with nothing other than the Apple Watch.

    The R1 is excellent at obstacle avoidance, but it's still a drone and an expensive one at $1,999, so there are rules to follow. It can't be flown in windy conditions, and its cameras aren't able to detect thin branches as we learned during a crash, so caution needs to be exercised.

    Skydio is continually improving the R1 drone with new features and further autonomous research. It's out of the price range of most people who would use it casually at this point in time, and it's not the most portable at the size of a pizza box, but the technology is worth paying attention to because this kind of autonomy could be the future of mass-market drone usage in a few years time.

    Along with introducing a new Apple Watch app for controlling the R1, Skydio has additional news. Starting today, the R1 is available on the Apple online store and at select Apple retail locations. It can also be purchased from the Skydio website.

    Article Link: Skydio's R1 Drone Expands to Apple Stores, Can Now Be Controlled via Apple Watch
  2. Scottsoapbox, Oct 17, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018

    Scottsoapbox macrumors 6502a


    Oct 10, 2014
    This will really help when I feel alone when I'm away from all the cameras I have placed everywhere in my home.
  3. Macwick macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2008
    Considering it takes 2-3 minutes to control HomeKit devices from my Apple Watch, maybe using it to fly a drone is not a great idea.....
  4. Braderunner macrumors 6502a

    Oct 2, 2015
    Doesn't look like $2000 worth of a drone. o_O Looks chintzy compared to others in that price range. :eek:
  5. GadgetBen macrumors 6502a


    Jul 8, 2015
  6. Rajani Isa macrumors 65816

    Rajani Isa

    Jun 8, 2010
    Rogue Valley, Oregon
    It’s all the programming in it. And as I recall the camera(s) it used to record are very good.

    Only thing more the article could have is if it needs Registrwtion with whatever agency it is in the US (required due to things like rogue drones and drones with idiots behind them)
  7. pweicks macrumors regular


    Dec 23, 2016
    Coming from someone who has zero videography experience, can’t remember the last time they posted a picture online and has never taken a selfie before in their life... I want that! And then I saw the price tag... and the comparison of its size to a pizza box... they totally made it seem like it was way smaller than it is. Uggghhhh... I wonder how much it would reduce the price if they made a model that completely removed all of the obstacle avoidance tech. If they could get it down to $500 and make it half the size, I would consider buying it even without obstacle avoidance. That thing is sweet!
  8. Return Zero macrumors 6502a

    Return Zero

    Oct 2, 2013
    Really amazing flying tech, but $2k does seem steep for what seems to be an average-quality consumer grade camera. Only 2-axis gimbal, no 4k 60fps, low wireless range, etc. Too expensive for the average Joe to take fun, casual videos of their kids, but not high enough quality for professionals.

    I'm waiting for this tech at $500. As fast as we've come already, it should only be a couple of years.
  9. dan9700 macrumors 68020


    May 28, 2015
    why £2000 my dpi spark is better and only £550
  10. WilliamG, Oct 17, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018

    WilliamG macrumors G3

    Mar 29, 2008
    No, that’s a drone you fly yourself. The Skydio is FULLY autonomous, and has the best obstacle sensing and avoidance on any consumer drone that I’ve seen. It literally flies itself.

    Don’t get me wrong. It’s not for me. I love my Mavic 2 Pro. But the Skydio is a really impressive piece of tech.
  11. harpster macrumors regular

    Jan 26, 2010
  12. gglockner macrumors 6502


    Nov 25, 2007
    Bellevue, WA
    Looks fantastic if you want to watch yourself playing outdoors. Otherwise it looks like a very expensive toy.
  13. MrJeffreyGee macrumors regular


    Apr 20, 2009
    Very cool, but the thought of it not being able to see tree branches is very worrisome.

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