San Diego, CA—The company’s first-ever professional drone, the Sony Airpeak S1 is an introductory model in the new Airpeak line announced at CES 2021. The S1 is the smallest drone that utilizes a full-size mirrorless interchangeable-lens Alpha camera.
The new drone uses a proprietary motor, propeller, control system as well as sensing technology. The combination enables the drone to fly at extremely high speeds with stable wind resistance. In addition, the Airpeak S1 features an advanced remote controller that supports the production of high-quality aerial images. It also includes obstacle detection; automatic flight control via sensing; and increased safety via cloud management of the aircraft and flight information.
“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.”
Sony Airpeak S1 Specs
The Airpeak S1 offers a speed of 55mph, a 180° maximum angular velocity and a 55° maximum tilt angle. Propulsion technology that uses a combination of Sony–developed key devices provides wind resistance for wind speeds up to 44.7mph.
In addition to the lightweight yet sturdy proprietary 17-inch propeller and brushless motor, the S1 boasts an ESC (electric speed controller) for optimal control of these components. Moreover, a unique flight control system integrates the propulsion device and all sensor information to ensure stable flight and maneuverability.
Imaging components include stereo cameras with Sony image sensors; they are installed on the front, back, left, right and bottom of the aircraft. What’s more, Sony’s Vision Sensing processor and algorithms estimate the drone’s spatial position and orientation in real time. Consequently, this enables stable flight even in environments where GNSS (global navigation satellite system) reception is hindered, such as under bridges. The high-speed processor also provides low power consumption.
Furthermore, the Airpeak S1’s flight control system integrates sensor information, including IMU (inertial measurement unit); direction; barometric pressure; and infrared ranging to optimize the propulsion device.
Multidirectional sensors also enable the drone’s obstacle braking function. The front, rear, left and right stereo cameras and the infrared range-finding sensor mounted on the top recognize obstacles near the aircraft. This allows the Airpeak S1 to automatically decelerate and stop according to the surrounding conditions.
In addition, filmmakers can choose the Alpha system for their desired application. The Airpeak S1 is compatible with various camera bodies, including the Alpha 7S series and FX3 for high–descriptive capability with suppressed noise; the Alpha 7R series for ultrahigh definition; and the Alpha 9 series for distortion-free images. The Alpha 1, which shoots 8K footage, is also compatible.
Other Features & Supporting Apps
Moreover, the professional drone includes Airpeak Flight. This iOS and iPadOS app integrates the aircraft, transmitter, camera and gimbal. Subsequently, operators can monitor status information such as flight distance and battery power. They can also change operations and settings on–screen.
The Airpeak S1 also has a dual operation mode so one user can operate the drone while another operates the gimbal and camera simultaneously, all while checking the same image. Additionally, the FPV (first person view) camera, which is tilt-operated from the remote controller, is mounted on the drone’s nose. This camera allows operators to check the direction of the aircraft.
The drone also includes Airpeak Base; this web application permits operators 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 permits pilots to check the condition of the aircraft before going to the field.
With Airpeak Base, operators can also create advanced flight plans and automatically fly the aircraft along the same course repeatedly, as if the drone were on rails. It is able to set the position (latitude, longitude and altitude) and speed of the aircraft along the timeline, as well as specify the orientation of the gimbal and the timing of video or still image shooting. It can also draw smooth curves on the map. And reproduction flight is an automatic flight function that reproduces the flight route, gimbal and camera movements based on flight logs flown in the past.
Moreover, operators can upload aircraft information, including logs, to the cloud via the Airpeak Flight mobile app. Airpeak Base then lets users check the drone’s status and also provides notifications. Users can manage the status of all managed aircraft in one place before flight.
Sony is also making several services available to owners of the Airpeak S1. Airpeak Plus is a cloud service that lets pilots use the features of Airpeak Base. In addition, the Airpeak Protect plan is a service plan that covers accidental damage to the drone. Sony will make further details regarding both services available on the Airpeak website before the related products and services go on sale.
The Sony Airpeak S1 is available for preorder and will ship to customers in the fall 2021. It will include two pairs of propellers, a remote controller, two batteries and a battery charger. It will have a suggested retail price of $9,000. In addition, a third-party gimbal made specifically for the Airpeak S1 will retail separately.