Since originally announcing its Airpeak drone project last November, Sony has been rather quiet on what to expect with its first foray into the world of UAVs. Until two days ago, that is, when Sony published a teaser video, showing the drone flying in sustained 44 MPH winds inside a test tunnel.
The test was done at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) wind tunnel, which uses a large fan and a pair of tunnels to simulate real-world wind speeds. Sony says its goal ‘was to see how the drone could be affected by strong wind, and up to what wind speed the drone could endure.’ Sony goes on to say its ‘test results showed that the prototype could maintain stable flight up to around 20m/s [roughly 40 MPH] – a wind so powerful an average person would have trouble standing upright.”
|Image credit: Sony|
As visible form the footage, the drone appears to be incredibly stable, even at the highest wind speeds. The onboard footage, captured with a Sony mirrorless camera attached to a gimbal below the drone, also remains stable, with only the slightest movement noticed once the wind speed gets to 35–40 MPH.
Sony says on its Airpeak website the drone’s ‘propulsion system is optimized to ensure stable flight even in strong winds and features an ESC designed for superior control, highly efficient and responsive 17-inch propellers, and lightweight, high-performance, high-power brushless motors.’
|Image credit: Sony|
Of course, real world wind isn’t as consistent as the artificial wind inside the tunnel. To that end, Sony says ‘The key to stable flight is to design a system that is both highly responsive to the environment, and can maintain control under any condition.’ Sony says it is continuing to develop its ‘unique propulsion system and flight controller’ for the Airpeak drone and will keep ‘testing the technology in strong winds and other challenging environmental conditions as we strive towards an optimum level of flight stability for Airpeak.’
Sony doesn’t reveal any further details about the Airpeak’s release date or price, but based on statements from January, Airpeak is expected to hit the market in Spring 2021. If we’re going by the meteorological start of Spring in the northern hemisphere, that gives Sony until June 1, so hopefully we won’t have to wait long to see what else the Airpeak has in store.