The Sony Airpeak drone has been a little quiet since its grand unveiling at CES 2021, but a new video has revealed what could be a key strength in its battle with DJI drones.
The video (below) shows the Airpeak being tested in a wind tunnel with impressive results – the professional drone and its footage appears to stay very steady in winds reading over 19m/s, albeit from one direction.
Sony says that these tests on a prototype at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency show that its "aiming for a high-level of wind resistance as we continue developing Airpeak’s frame".
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The Sony Airpeak's closest rival is probably the DJI Inspire 2, which is similarly aimed at professional aerial cinematographers thanks to its size, speed (0-50mph in five seconds) and camera options like the Zenmuse X5S, which supports 5.2K/30p footage and formats like Apple ProRes.
But the Inspire 2 is now five years old and DJI appears to have recently been more focused on the drones that sit either side of the Inspire 2 – namely, consumer-focused models like the DJI Air 2S and industrial beasts like the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced, which comes with features like a thermal camera.
That camera allows DJI's enterprise drone to be used in areas like firefighting and search-and-rescue, but it seems Sony has spotted a gap in the pro filmmaking space for the Airpeak. The Inspire 2, for example, can only withstand maximum wind speeds of 10m/s, which is half what Sony was hinting at for the Airpeak in its wind tunnel tests.
The other big advantage that Sony's Airpeak drone brings is close compatibility with its Alpha cameras, including the Sony A7S III that starred in the original trailer for the drone.
While it's been possible to use Sony cameras with other drones using gimbals from DJI and third-party companies, Sony is promising a more seamless integration with its Airpeak system.
According to the company, Airpeak will be the "smallest class of drone that can be equipped with the Alpha system" and will have the same obstacle-sensing tech as its new Vision-S concept car. This echoes DJI's recent announcement that its drone tech will support its move into self-driving cars with DJI Automotive.
While there are still quite a few unknowns about the Airpeak drone itself – no-one outside Sony has yet been able to fly one yet – there's no doubting the quality of its full-frame Alpha cameras.
From the Sony A7S III to the new Sony A1, it's created a compact class of professional full-frame video cameras that look ideal for mounting in drone gimbals and shooting some spectacular sky-based footage.
Sony previously said that it would fully launch Airpeak "in the spring of 2021" (in other words, between March and May), so unless this new video is a placeholder to mask some delays to that schedule, we're expecting to hear some more official about its full release and pricing soon.