Sony first announced its Airpeak drone back in November, but now Sony has officially unveiled its drone and teased more information. As suspected, Sony is targeting professional users, because the Airpeak quadcopter uses an Alpha system camera as a camera and allows 2-person teams for flight and shooting.
In the press release, Sony talks about the fact that in the development of the drone, Sony&s experience in the field of image and sensor technology as well as 3R technologies (Reality, Real-Time and Remote) were used and that the Airpeak is intended to support the "creativity of video creators", i.e. it is completely tailored to the needs of (drone) filmmakers and that reliability and safety have the highest priority (no wonder, the Sony Alpha used can be worth many thousands of euros, depending on the model and lens). The many integrated sensors also point to comprehensive capabilities for automatically avoiding obstacles (see below).
It is clear that the camera quality will be very high given the Alpha cameras used, now Sony just has to make sure that the flight characteristics and functions as well as the video transmission keep up with it.
On the one hand, the decision to use an external camera is practical because it means that an already existing high-quality camera including lenses can be used, but on the other hand - compared to a dedicated drone camera integrated into the gimbal - this naturally comes at the expense of weight and thus also flight time.
After all, Sony can rely on its experience from the Aerosense baptized cooperation in the field of drones, launched back in 2015 together with the Japanese automation specialist ZMP, which has already produced several special drones for the field of professional surveying, agriculture and inspection from the air - in addition to quadcopters also an interesting VTOL combination of a quadcopter with an aircraft with 11kg payload.
Observations and speculations. This demo video shows flight footage of an Airpeak drone tracking a prototype of Sony&s VISION-S electric car:
As Sony continues to hold back on technical data, we have to infer more data from the demo clips. According to this, the Airpeak has two detachable landing skids, which fold up in flight to avoid blocking the camera&s view. The carbon fiber arms of the rotors do not appear to be retractable, meaning the Airpeak is relatively bulky to transport. The camera seen in the photos is a Sony Alpha 7s mounted on a 3-axis gimbal mounted under the drone body.
Sony Airpeak Integrated Sensors
Furthermore, several small integrated cameras/sensors can be seen (at least three on the front, two on the back, one on top and two on each side), which serve to automatically avoid obstacles - very likely the one central moving (FPV) camera provides its own video stream for the pilot - the (extra) cameraman can thus concentrate entirely on controlling it via gimbal for the ideal setting via live transmission of images from the Sony Alpha camera - a professional setup.
Sony Airpeak Controller
You can also see several spherical structures located at the bottom between the drone&s housing and the gimbal&s suspension, probably to dampen in-flight vibrations from the rotors and allow the camera to shoot without shaking. The Airpeak&s actual housing apparently has room for two large, apparently easy-to-change batteries - good for near-continuous flight - along with battery level indicators via four LEDs.
Sony Airpeak batteries
The open questions. The Sony Airpeak is expected to hit the market this spring - we can only assume that it won&t be cheap, as it is aimed at more professional users and requires a Sony Alpha camera as a drone camera. For more info on the camera (what are the flight and recording modes? How is the transmission of the videos, what is the range of the or resolution and frame rate? What is the payload (for camera and lens)? How long can the Airpeak stay in the air? And can cameras from other manufacturers be used (then possibly not optimally supported) together with the Airpeak (otherwise the market for it would be quite limited)? And of course, how much does it cost?) - let&s wait for more releases from Sony.
While DJI dominates the consumer and pro drone market, with new restrictions on Chinese manufacturers in the US, there may be an opportunity for Sony and other manufacturers. more infos at bei www.sony.net