Tech

Watch Sony's new drone battle a 44 mph gale (and win)

Sony's Airpeak drone is built to fly in some pretty serious weather conditions.

Keeping a drone steady can be tough, which means keeping a drone steady in 45 mph winds should be pretty much a no-go – that is unless you’re flying Sony’s Airpeak.

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In a recent demonstration, Sony showed off the Airpeak, which was originally unveiled in January as a competitor of DJI in the film space. Sony hopes to carve out a space using its own imaging, sensing, and AI robotics technology to help ensure the drone’s stabilization.

It’s not all software, however, Sony says the Airpeak’s hardware, in particular its propulsion system, also plays a critical role in helping maintain stability. The current Airpeak prototype uses 17-inch propellers and high-performance brushless motors.

If you’re curious how Sony’s work is going on its mission to achieve stabilization superiority, just take a look at the Airpeak managing to maintain stability in this wind tunnel in Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

44 mph

Sony says the Airpeak maintains stability at winds just under 45 mph.

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Here’s how steady the camera is at peak wind velocity.

Though the Airpeak performs well in its controlled test, the real world will offer more obstacles than a wind tunnel. Gusts in a natural environment tend to swirl and shift, meaning Sony’s systems will have to be more responsive.

“We are developing a unique propulsion system and flight controller for the device, and testing the technology in strong winds and other challenging environmental conditions as we strive towards an optimum level of flight stability for Airpeak.”

Sony

Spring 2021

Sony says the Airpeak is coming soon.

Sony hasn’t given a specific release date for the Airpeak, but the drone is expected to be released imminently. The price is also still a mystery, but will likely hit several thousand dollars if they’re aiming to be competitive comparable models. By far the biggest outstanding question, however, is whether the company will be able to unseat the likes of drone juggernauts like DJI.

Needless to say, Sony has an upwind battle.