Sony starts its own drone company, Airpeak, which will have a new drone to fly Alpha cameras. The announcement by the company stated, “Sony Corporation today announced that it has launched a new project for drones in the field of AI robotics.”*
Sony explained its aspirations:
“Sony has assigned the ‘Airpeak’ brand to reflect its aspiration to contribute to the further evolvement and the creation of the unprecedented value through its imaging and sensing technology as well as 3R technologies (Reality, Real-time and Remote) in the drone area.”*
The company will display its new Airpeak drone at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in early spring of 2021. Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the Global Stage for innovation and the most influential technology in the world. It is also an annual trade show organized by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).
The new drone is said to be the smallest drone capable of carrying an Alpha camera and is designed for video content creation and professional photography and filmmaking settings.
The Airpeak was showcased by flying as a chase camera for footage of its Vision-S concept car from the last Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The model shown off is a quadcopter design and it features two landing gear extensions that retract upward during flight (and therefore does not spoil the footage).
Although Sony has not been involved with drones in the past, its cameras are among the best in the industry. In fact, the market giant, DJI, already offers camera mounts for Sony Alpha products. With Sony bringing that expertise to impact drone-focused products, this winning combination should bring great success.
According to their website, Sony is admitting that they are looking for “partners in the professional space who can collaborate on the project.”*
Sony’s mirrorless Alpha series cameras have become very popular filmmaking tools, which many attribute to the company’s high-quality sensors.
Although full-frame bodies and lenses are large, heavy and bulky payloads for a drone to carry, Sony’s goal with Airpeak is to keep the airframe as small, portable and lightweight as possible, so it doesn’t take up too much room to transfer.The prototype is estimated to be a solid 2 feet (60 cm) across diagonally. It has four large props on carbon fiber arms, a substantial body capable of accepting two bulky battery packs, and long carbon legs which fold up out of the way once the drone is airborne. The prototype is slightly above the horizontal, which serves as a kind of bumper in case the drone runs into something while it is moving sideways.
Separate controls for piloting and camera control make this a professional-grade solution.
A large adjustable camera gimbal hangs underneath, poised to accept and stabilize the camera body and lens. It needs to be balanced like any camera gimbal that is not an all-in-one operation. In addition, the drone has its own cameras with stereo cameras probably for positioning and avoidance of obstacles. There is also another tiltable forward-facing camera for the pilot. It is assumed that the camera functions might be relegated to a separate controller, since the drone should be capable of separate visual and control links for a camera operator and a pilot, which would require two people to fly this drone.
While Sony’s announcement of starting a new drone company is the latest in a series of announcements of starting drone companies, many more will follow to increase their investment in some segment of the rapidly expanding drone market.
This benefits everyone as the drone market, like the automobile market years ago, went mainstream and automobiles became an integral part of transportation, thereby of society as a whole.