It wasn’t long ago that Skydio announced it was sunsetting its consumer drone division. But it didn’t take long for Skydio to prove its capable of making something bigger and — by many accounts — better. That’s because today, the American drone maker announced an all-new drone called the Skydio X10.
The Skydio X10 is an enterprise-range drone that stands out for its high-resolution cameras that are particularly powerful even at night or in other low-light situations. It’s lightweight and portable, capable of going from backpack to air in less than 40 seconds. Yet it’s got an incredibly powerful airframe that stands out for its weather resistance, capability to fight against jammers, and its 5G radio for infinite range wherever there is cellular coverage.
But for folks who fell in love with Skydio as an American drone maker that competed with DJI’s consumer-grade, camera drones, this isn’t exactly a consolation prize. The Skydio X10 is squarely targeted at high-level enterprise applications, including first response, critical infrastructure inspections and even military applications. Consider it the new and improved version of the Skydio X2 drone, which began shipping in spring 2021 as an enterprise-level upgrade to the Skydio 2 featuring dual color/thermal sensors, a more robust airframe and larger flight times.
And all told, this new Skydio X10 drone — which was revealed today turning Skydio’s Ascend event — is turning heads. Here’s everything you need to know about it:
Everything to know about the Skydio X10 enterprise drone
The Skydio X10 is an enterprise drone designed to serve a range of industries, including defense, energy, public safety, transportation, construction and communications. It’s all about sensors, autonomy and a robust airframe. And while it can do everything expected of the leading, manually-flown drones (most notably the DJI Matrice lineup), it brings with it next-level autonomy.
The Skydio X10 cameras
As has been the trend on drones lately, the Skydio X10 doesn’t simply have one camera— it’s got multiple, custom-designed, high-resolution cameras. They are:
- A 48 MP Zoom Camera: The resolution on this camera is so powerful that Skydio claims it can read license plates from as far away as 800 feet.
- A 50 MP Wide Field of View Camera: Given the high-resolution, this camera is ideal for detecting minute details, like 0.1 mm cracks in concrete.
- A 640×512 FLIR Boson+ Radiometric Thermal Camera: This camera is perhaps a crown jewel in distinguishing the X10 as a true enterprise powerhouse, as it can do everything from measuring temperature differences in challenging environments, such as finding a missing person on a hot desert floor. That’s an improvement upon what we saw in the Skydio X2E, which is the roughly $11,000 enterprise model of the Skydio 2 drone and includes upgraded features like a FLIR® 320×256 thermal sensor.
Skydio X10’s autonomy (and other smart features)
Skydio has long been a leader in autonomous flight, harkening back to when its original R1 drone could genuinely claim the title of one of the first fully-autonomous consumer drones thanks to its sensors on all sides, which at the time was completely unparalleled and really made Skydio a leader in the follow-me camera drone space.
The autonomous inventions continue on this new Skydio X10 drones too. The drone relies on onboard AI for computing power using high-fidelity, custom-designed navigation cameras.
In theory, the drone should be able to better navigate around thing obstacles that older obstacle avoidance tech might have missed, while also just better navigating in generally more challenging conditions, including places with electromagnetic interference.
And among its smartest features is NightSense, a software designed to enable autonomous flight even in zero-light environments. That feature is largely what pits the Skydio X10 against another American competitor, the Teal 2, which is made by Utah-based Teal (whose parent company is Red Cat). The Teal 2 is the first drone to be equipped with Teledyne FLIR’s Hadron 640R sensor.
It also got smarter in mapping environments. That’s thanks to the X10’s Spatial AI engine, which enables real-time environment mapping and fully automated modeling via its 3D Scan and Onboard Modeling functions.
The Skydio X10 airframe
Unlike many other enterprise drones that can be pretty bulky, the Skydio X10 is far from that. It’s designed to fold up and fit in a backpack. And the unfolding part is quick, with Skydio claiming an operator could get the drone from backpack to air in less than 40 seconds.
The airframe is also designed to be pretty durable, carrying an IP54 weather resistance rating.
The design also enables the Skydio drone to evolve thanks to its modular and open style with four payload bays, meaning you could connect all sorts of gimbals or other sensors to the drone — giving it even more power.
And then there’s one more incredibly standout feature on the drone largely designed to fight against potential drone jamming situations. That’s Skydio Connect, a connectivity system with a redesigned point-to-point link. The system uses a multi-band radio which is critical for flying in contested and jammed environments.
Plus, should you be flying in an area with cellular coverage, you’re looking at infinite range given the drone’s 5G radio.
And experts are taking well to this new drone, suggesting that this could be a top-tier, American-made drone:
What the new Skydio X10 means for Skydio
The Skydio X10 was the centerpiece of the Skydio X10 event, an online and in-person conference of sorts hosted by Skydio — marking the first-of-its-kind event for the company.
While it’s perhaps not surprising to see Skydio reveal an ultra-powerful, enterprise drone to its arsenal, it solidifies the fact that the California-based drone maker is serious about building enterprise drones. Up until now, Skydio’s primary enterprise offerings were centered around the X2 drone, which was really just a plussed-up version of the Skydio 2 consumer drone (the company took the consumer drone and put it on steroids of sorts with improved features). Then, Skydio made additional X2 modifications, such as launching a military-focused version called the Skydio X2D — which for its part has been widely used by the U.S. military and its allies worldwide, including a delivery to fighters in Ukraine.
Other key projects for Skydio include working with the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) to remotely fly drones using Skydio Dock and Remote Ops beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). It’s also working with the Alaska Rural Remote Operations Work Plan (ARROW) Program to test BVLOS flights around rural Alaska communities. Other major clients Taser-maker Axon and natural gas company Dominion Energy.
But since the company’s launch in 2014, this is perhaps its biggest step yet in going all-in on the enterprise side.
“X10 is a reflection of everything we’ve learned from our customers, a technology foundation with a decade of R&D behind it, and the work of an incredibly talented and dedicated team at Skydio,” said Adam Bry, co-founder and CEO Skydio in a prepared statement ahead of the Ascend event. “Our end goal at Skydio is not to build drones, but to build successful drone programs. The journey is just getting started.”
Who is the new Skydio X10 best for?
Skydio is pitching this drone for advanced industries. That includes first responders, who will likely respond well to the drone’s compact size and ease of use. With onboard 5G capabilities, it can be launched by an officer and operated remotely to provide situational awareness.
It’ll also likely prove useful for energy utilities and other critical infrastructure operators seeking an aerial inspection tool. That’s largely because the drone’s advanced sensors and obstacle avoidance capabilities enable confident operation in challenging environments with . The X10 can detect faults and defects with unmatched precision, and its AI capabilities pave the way for automated inspections.
And then there’s one more customer that Skydio is targeting: the military. Skydio’s X2D drone has already been adopted by the U.S. military and its allies (for example, last August Skydio announced a massive U.S. Army contract worth potentially up to $99.8 million). And alongside the launch of the Skydio X10 drone, the company is also putting out a slightly modified aircraft called the Skydio X10D, which makes it a military-ready aircraft.
All told, the Skydio X10 is especially ideal for folks seeking a drone made in America. Many already consider Skydio, which is based in San Mateo, California, to be the leading U.S. drone manufacturer and arguably the worldwide leader in autonomous flight technology. Skydio is one of just about a dozen companies participating in the U.S. Department of Defense’s pilot program called Blue sUAS 2.0, where the selected companies work with the government to prototype a new process of approving U.S. military-compliant drones.
All of Skydio’s products are designed and assembled in the U.S. That’s critical now more than ever as customers demand not just high standards in terms of supply chain and manufacturing, but also data security.
Data security has become such a hot-button issue, that even American policy makers are proposing legislation to ensure that Chinese drones are not used by U.S. government agencies. That includes the American Security Drone Act of 2023, a bipartisan bill that would prohibit federal agencies from purchasing drones made by Chinese government-linked countries.
“The imperative to diminish reliance on Chinese-manufactured drones has become increasingly evident, fueled by security concerns,” according to a statement from Skydio. “Industries are actively seeking alternatives to ensure the security and sovereignty of their drone technology. Skydio’s vision and unwavering commitment to AI and US-based manufacturing has led to the development of the pioneering Skydio X10, a solution that squarely addresses these industry dynamics and paves the way for the future of drones as highly advanced, secure, and autonomous tools, primed to cater to the evolving demands of modern industries.”