Sony first announced its official entry into the drone sector early this year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Though there still aren’t solid details on a release date or pricing for its Airpeak drone, the company recently unveiled some stunning wide-angle footage captured over Okinawa, Japan’s, remote island called Irimote. Besides the scenery, the video also showcases the Airpeak drone in action carrying both Sony’s a7S III and FX3 cameras.
What’s revealed, as well, is how the drone is able to carry a payload that includes their new 14mm F1.8 GM lens. Although rather large in size for a drone, Sony claims that the Airpeak is the smallest model available that is able to carry its Alpha line of cameras. For comparison’s sake, Freefly Systems has been working on its Astro drone, which is compatible with Sony’s a7R IV camera, but hasn’t been released yet.
One issue pointed out about the Airpeak is that it is a quadcopter. For comparison’s sake, DJI’s Matrice 600 is a hexacopter. If one rotor fails on the Matrice 600, the drone will still remain airborne. That’s not the case with a quadcopter, and Sony camera’s aren’t exactly cheap. We can also see from the latest video that two batteries are needed to power the drone. This is a typical failsafe, also found in DJI’s Inspire 2, should one battery fail during flight.
Much like a drone of its class, the Airpeak also has an additional front-facing pilot’s camera as well as obstacle avoidance sensors on the front and back of the aircraft. There aren’t any sideways sensors but unlike a DJI Phantom or Mavic series drone, which is constrained by a 3-axis gimbal that only tilts up and down, the AirPeak doesn’t need those additional sensors since it only needs to fly forwards or backwards since the camera can also rotate from side to side.
It also looks as though Sony hasn’t created a gimbal for the Airpeak yet. Instead, the Gremsy T3V3 3-axis camera stabilizer is attached. It is unclear whether or not Sony will develop their own gimbal. The remote is clearly made by Sony, since the branding is there, and a tablet is attached – suggesting, for now, that a built-in screen won’t be available.
The software being used to power the drone is built on Mapbox, which also powers self-driving cars. What this means is that Airpeak users will be able to pre-plan flights.
This isn’t the first teaser video Sony has released for its Airpeak drone. Sony also introduced a VISION-S concept car at CES. The Airpeak was featured in the video, above, where you can see its landing gear extensions retract upward, after takeoff, to give a fuller field of view for the camera. Wind resistance is another pain point for drone users. Sony recently created a wind tunnel to illustrate how well the Airpeak handles gusts up to 45 mph.
As mentioned above, a definitive release date and price point has yet to be announced. Sony is still looking for professional drone videographers and photographers, its target audience, to test out the Airpeak. You must be located in the United States or Japan to participate at this time.