After a series of teaser videos were released over the past six months, Sony Electronics has officially revealed pertinent details for the Airpeak S1 – a professional drone aimed at creatives. It is the world’s smallest drone capable of carrying Sony’s line of full-size, interchangeable-lens Alpha series cameras. It is also Sony’s official entry into the drone market.
‘Sony is excited to launch our new drone business with the Airpeak S1,’ said Yang Cheng, Vice President, 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, storytellers and commercial professionals to capture that which they’ve never been able to capture before.’
Airpeak S1 users have the ability to choose between a variety of Alpha cameras to mount on their drone. The Alpha 9, 7S and 7R series are all compatible, as is the FX3. Sony’s Alpha 1, which is capable of shooting 8K video, is also available as an option.
Sony has developed a proprietary motor, propeller, control system, and sensing technology to allow the drone to fly up to 90 km/h (55 mph) while withstanding winds up to 72 km/h (44.7 mph). It also has a maximum angular velocity of 180°/s and a maximum tilt angle of 55º. The video, below, displays how the Airpeak S1 holds up against strong winds.
Sony has equipped the S1 with an Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) to control the 17″ propeller and brushless motor. Stereo cameras containing Sony’s image sensors are located on the front, rear, left, right, and bottom of the aircraft. Coupled with Sony’s Vision Sensing Processor, the aircraft’s position and orientation can be determined in real-time – even in areas where GPS may be hindered, such as indoor spaces. Crucial sensor information such as IMU and barometric pressure help optimize the control system.
An iOS app called ‘Airpeak Flight’ has been developed to allow the remote pilot to control the aircraft and gimbal. It features information including battery life, aircraft speed, and allows the operator to control settings such as toggling between flight modes. Like other drones in its class, dual-operation mode is available so one participant can operate the camera and gimbal at the same time while the other can use the first-person-view camera on the front to maneuver the drone.
A web application called ‘Airpeak Base’ allows users to manage their equipment, maintain flight logs, and create advanced flight plans. Progress is monitored so the operator isn’t caught off guard by an issue with the aircraft or batteries. The drone can be programmed to fly the same flight path repeatedly. Latitude, longitude, altitude, gimbal orientation, and timing video plus photo stills can all be pre-programmed and reproduced.
The Airpeak S1 will retail for $9,000 USD and will include two sets of propellers, a remote controller, two batteries, and a battery charger. A third-party gimbal created specifically for the Airpeak S1 will be sold separately. An ‘Airpeak Protect Plan’ will also be made available to cover accidental damage, though the price hasn’t been specified. The drone is manufactured in Japan and will start shipping out to customers in Fall, 2021.