Sony is now fully unveiling its Airpeak S1 drone, which it teased at CES 2021 in January. The announcement includes much more detail about the drone’s capabilities, features and reveals a price of $ 9,000 for the drone sans gimbal or camera, all of which cement the idea that this drone will be aimed at the professional video market.
The Airpeak S1 is built to work with Sony’s mirrorless cameras, including the A7S Mark III, FX3 or even the 8K compatible Alpha 1. They are attached to a special version of the Gremsy T3 gimbal designed specifically for Airpeak and that you will need to buy separately. With a camera, the drone has about 12 minutes of flight time (although it can achieve 22 minutes without load). It is also worth noting that the camera needs its own batteries – it does not get power from the drone.
Sony has already released a preview of the types of shots you can draw with the drone, which you can see below. You can also get a shot of the towing landing gear in motion.
One of the drone’s biggest selling points is its stability and wind resistance. According to Sony, it can remain stable in winds of up to 44.7 miles per hour (that’s 20 m / s, twice as much as DJI quotes for Inspire 2), and it has five sets of stereo cameras that charge the drone and an infrared rangefinder , which should help the drone stop before hitting obstacles and remain stable, even without satellite reception. Sony even hired JAXA, the Japanese space agency, to help it do some of the tests for the drone:
Airpeak is also fast – it can handle 0-50 (which is close to its top speed of 55.9 miles per hour) in 3.5 seconds. However, it is worth noting that it is without any attachments – Sony has not said what kind of speed or acceleration can be achieved when the drone flies with a camera. That said, Sony showed me and other journalists a video of the drone making figure-eight in the air, which it pulled off with impressive speed and agility.
By comparison, the DJI’s Matrix 600 Pro, which costs around $ 7,000 without a propeller or camera, has a top speed of 40 miles per hour and a quoted battery life of 32 minutes alone or 16 minutes with a 13-pound payload using its storage batteries.
The Airpeak S1 can only be operated with the included controller, but Sony has an app called Airpeak Flight to make it easier. The app is only iOS / iPadOS at the moment, but it allows control of the camera and gimbal. Airpeak can be operated by a single person, but also allows for dual operator mode, where one person controls the flight and the other controls the camera. Sony says the controller’s range is still being tested.
While you don’t get a camera or gimbal for the Airpeak S1’s price of $ 9,000, it comes with two pairs of propellers, the controller, two batteries and a charger. Sony expects to ship it in the fall and will offer a service plan to cover damage that may occur as a result of a crash.
In light of all the legislation and controversy surrounding drones from China, Sony makes it clear that the Airpeak S1 is designed and made in Japan; it came up repeatedly in a press conference and again in the press release.