Drones

Sony starts its own drone company, Airpeak, to fly Alpha cameras

Sony starts its own drone comp...
Sony is starting a new drone business called Airpeak, dedicated to flying its Alpha cameras in professional filmmaking settings
Sony is starting a new drone business called Airpeak, dedicated to flying its Alpha cameras in professional filmmaking settings
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Sony is starting a new drone business called Airpeak, dedicated to flying its Alpha cameras in professional filmmaking settings
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Sony is starting a new drone business called Airpeak, dedicated to flying its Alpha cameras in professional filmmaking settings
A large adjustable gimbal can hold Sony Alpha (and presumably other) cameras
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A large adjustable gimbal can hold Sony Alpha (and presumably other) cameras
Tiltable camera for the pilot and stereo cameras for environmental awareness
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Tiltable camera for the pilot and stereo cameras for environmental awareness
A chunky body carrying two battery packs and short, stubby carbon wings keep the Airpeak prototype compact
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A chunky body carrying two battery packs and short, stubby carbon wings keep the Airpeak prototype compact
Separate controls for piloting and camera control make this a professional-grade solution
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Separate controls for piloting and camera control make this a professional-grade solution
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Sony's mirrorless Alpha series cameras have become hugely popular filmmaking tools, thanks in large part to the company's excellent sensors. At this year's CES, Sony announced it's starting up a drone business specifically to work with Alpha cameras, and it promises to be absolutely Airpeak.

Full-frame bodies and lenses are big, heavy and bulky payloads for a drone to carry about, but Sony's goal with Airpeak is to keep the airframe as small, portable and lightweight as is practical, so it doesn't take up too much room in the van.

The prototype device appears a solid 2 feet (60 cm) across diagonally, with four large props on carbon fiber arms, a beefy body capable of accepting two chunky battery packs, and long carbon legs to stand on, which fold up out of the way once you're airborne and sit slightly above the horizontal, neatly offering a kind of bumper should you run into something while moving sideways.

Separate controls for piloting and camera control make this a professional-grade solution
Separate controls for piloting and camera control make this a professional-grade solution

A big ol' adjustable camera gimbal hangs underneath, ready to accept and stabilize your camera body and lens. You'll have to balance it, like any camera gimbal that's not an all-in-one, and it'll be interesting to see how big a lens it'll handle. The drone has its own cameras as well; stereo cameras dotted about the place, presumably for positioning and perhaps obstacle avoidance, and another tiltable forward-facing camera for the pilot.

The camera functions will thus, we assume, be relegated to a separate controller, and the drone should be capable of separate visual and control links for a pilot and a camera operator, making this a two-person job to fly.

There are certainly opportunities to be had, particularly since the United States government has added China's DJI to its "economic blacklist." Sony has extensive experience across a wide range of electronics, and claims it will be bringing its AI and robotics expertise to bear on the Airpeak project. No details are available on the new division's first products as yet, but Sony is looking to work with professional aerial cinema and photography teams to develop its offerings for the pro market.

You can see the Airpeak prototype in action in the video below.

Airpeak | Aerial Shooting of VISION-S Road Test

Source: Sony

View gallery - 5 images
2 comments
2 comments
BlueOak
Seems like a wasteful way for SONY to spend its precious capital.

Why waste resources on an already maturing, increasingly regulated, and competitive market? One wonders, specifically, what functionality SONY executives found missing in existing drones? If they believed that, what effort did they make to work with existing drone companies?
Nelson Hyde Chick
Just more noise for our already too noisy urban environment.