Sony’s expensive Airpeak S1 drone has been regularly improved since its disappointing launch. Sony released an enhanced battery and better gimbal earlier this year, and has today released a new firmware update that adds advanced mapping, new safety protocols, and better compatibility.
The free firmware update is “tailored to meet the evolving needs of industrial enterprise and high-end users,” per Sony. It represents the company’s “dedication to continuous improvement and customer-centric innovation.” The company further explains that the new firmware directly responds to customer feedback.
The enhanced mapping features are designed with surveying applications in mind and utilize the recent Airpeak Real Time Kinematic (RTK) kit RTK-1 and GBL-PX1 gimbal. With these add-ons and the new firmware update, users can create 2D ortho maps, 3D models, and point clouds more efficiently. The update also makes it easier to use high-precision positioning data within a professional workflow. The data is recorded to an SD card in the RTK interface unit and can be linked with corresponding images using the Airpeak Flight app.
Although the new mapping is for enterprise and industrial users, every Airpeak owner can enjoy a new Automatic Return to Home (RTH) feature that promises to improve safety in various flight scenarios. The feature is built to automatically activate and lead the drone “home” when it experiences low battery or insufficient signal. “It intelligently calculates and navigates bypass routes to avoid restricted airspace or obstacles along the return path,” says Sony.
Users can select between Basic and Advanced modes. The Basic mode avoids obstacles in an upward direction, while the Advanced mode also avoids horizontal obstructions. “This feature is particularly useful for ensuring the safe retrieval of the aircraft after completing aerial imaging tasks,” Sony adds.
Another new feature, Direct Repeat Flight, allows Airpeak users to replicate flight paths. The mode allows the drone to accurately follow a previously flown path, including specific gimbal and camera movements, which should be helpful in photo and video productions. For example, imagine the Airpeak being used to film a scene. With the new Direct Repeat Flight option, doing multiple takes with consistent camera timing and positioning should be easier.
The Sony Airpeak is also now compatible with the Sony a7R Mark III(A), a slightly upgraded a7R III model released quietly in 2021.
A much more helpful compatibility expansion comes from support for new iPhone and iPad models. The Airpeak apps now work with iPhone SE (third generation), iPhone 14 Pro (Max), iPhone 14 (Plus), iPad Air (fifth generation), iPad Pro 11-inch (sixth generation), and iPad (10th generation).
Sony has also announced key partnerships with leading players in the drone industry, including AirData UAV, Hexagon Smart Net, and Inertial Labs. While Sony’s Airpeak strategy has been puzzling overall, the new firmware update at least reflects continued attention on the premium, pro-oriented drone. Sony’s website has complete details and download information concerning the new firmware update.
Image credits: Sony