The Sony Airpeak S1 drone just got a huge upgrade in terms of how operators can manage data from their fleet. Sony today announced a partnership with California-based drone software company AirData UAV, in which AirData UAV will now provide automatic flight data management for Sony’s $9,000 Airpeak S1 drone.
The new integration should be pretty intuitive in terms of unified fleet management. With it, Airpeak operators will be able to sync their Airpeak drones to AirData with one button click — and cna then begin automatically recording their flight data. What’s more, AirData will provides pilot management, maintenance tracking, the creation of detailed operational reports, sophisticated mission planning capabilities, and AirData’s proven low-latency Live Streaming solution to the AirPeak drone.
About AirData UAV — and how its software will support Sony drones
AirData UAV’s software supports drone data analytics and UAV fleet management. Under the partnership, AirData UAV’s software will then enable Airpeak users to more easily and efficiently handle various aspects of fleet management such as equipment data, mission planning, and meeting compliance requirements for their advanced new aircraft, including maintenance tracking.
It’s set to provide a big leg up for Sony, which already has been lauded for building a drone that provides an alternative to DJI — and that integrates with Sony’s lineup of Alpha cameras. Its camera has also received solid reviews for its strong flight performance, and range capabilities. That was due to tech including a proprietary motor, propeller, control system and sensing technology that allowed for stable, smooth high-speed flights even in windy conditions.
Where the Sony Airpeak S1 largely fell flat, though, was on the mission planning side of things (alongside a few other issues, like poor battery life). At least the former changes now that the AirData UAV partnership is in full gear. Now, Airpeak pilots can expect improved data analytics, mission planning, compliance reporting, and flight safety features of AirData.
The AirData UAV news is hardly the first significant upgrade — and perhaps shift in direction — for the Sony Airpeak S1, which is the first in the Airpeak line and is considered the world’s smallest drone compatible and capable of carrying Sony’s line of full-frame Alpha mirrorless cameras and interchangeable-lenses (other drones that can carry Sony Alpha cameras including the American drone maker Skyfish).
Sony is rising to become a dominant industrial drone
This past spring, Sony announced huge upgrades in the Airpeak S1’s capabilities for industrial applications in energy, communications, and other sectors. For example, the drone can now be upgraded with an RTK Kit. It also launched a Gremsy Gimbal PX1 for Airpeak (GBL-PX1), which is 40% lighter than the GBL-T3 from Gremsy that was originally built for Airpeak
Also this spring, Sony debuted a new LBP-HM1 Battery, which allows for significantly longer flight times (up to 30 minutes without a payload — up from 22). With a standard payload like, say, the new RTK Kit, PX1 gimbal, an A7RIV, and the Zeiss 35mm F2.8, and you can expect flight times up to 20 minutes (up from the formerly-paltry 12 minutes).
All those upgrades, plus today’s AirData news, points to Sony becoming perhaps a dominant force in the drone field and perhaps the strongest competitor to DJI. American policy makers, including Mitt Romney, have pushed for legislation to prohibit federal agencies from purchasing drones made by Chinese government-linked countries. Meanwhile, China’s own export controls are making it difficult (and expensive) for users to get their hands on certain drone products — in particular DJI’s thermal drones.
Sony is seizing the opportunity with this new drone to swoop in as a top competitor. Sony Electronics is a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America and an affiliate of Sony Group Corporation, which is based in Japan. But Sony Electronics is headquartered in San Diego, California (its other projects include building the award-winning Alpha Interchangeable Lens Cameras and revolutionary high-resolution audio products).
A dive into AirData UAV
AirData UAV is a software company in El Dorado Hills, California, which is near Sacramento. That’s critical, particularly as recent anti-China sentiment has led users to seek out not just hardware, but also drone software made in America.
Now, the company is largely considered the largest online drone fleet data management and real-time flight streaming platform. Its got more than 300,000 users with more than 34 million flights uploaded to date, processing an average of 25,000 flights a day, with high-resolution data stored per each flight.