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Skydio Turns Your Phone Into a Crash-Proof Magic Wand for Flying Drones

Fully autonomous flight is the future of consumer drones. But today's "autonomous" drone technology isn't foolproof. Now, a startup called Skydio wants to change that with a new kind of auto-pilot that uses a drone's camera. It looks insanely great.

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Skydio's autonomous flight technology is so good, it seems, that it can turn your smartphone into a magic wand of sorts that lets you simply point your phone the direction you want the drone to go. It works because Skydio turns the onboard camera into a so-called "drone visual cortex" that converts the 2D images from the lens into a 3D map of the surrounding environment. The drone then uses that map to avoid crashing into obstacles, including unsuspecting bystanders. The same data can be used for advanced Follow Me features as well.

For now, Skydio is still a prototype. The company did just get $3 million from some very prominent venture capitalists (namely Andreesen Horowitz and Accel Partners) so there's a good chance we'll be seeing this smart technology out in the wild. Or rather, there's a good chance this smart technology will be seeing you—and ideally not crashing into you face-first. [TechCrunch and The Verge]

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GIF by Nick Stango

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DISCUSSION

A drone controlled by a phone. When finished flying, dinner can be paid for by waving a phone at the restaurant. Afterwards a phone controlled driverless car heads toward home. After pulling into the driveway the house is unlocked and lights turned on by an app on the phone. Bags are packed for a big trip tomorrow and airline tickets ordered by phone. At the last minute money is transferred into the phones' account from the bank for incidentals on the trip. In the morning the phone starts the coffee brewing for a quick cup on the way to the airport. After arriving, the boarding pass is already in the phone ready for a quick wave at the gate...........All the while you have been standing out in the desert wondering what you are going to do and realizing how screwed you are after getting your phone stolen.