Sony’s smallest drone with Alpha camera expected to ship in September

Sony has officially launched the Airpeak S1 drone – the same professional film drone first shown in a virtual CES demo earlier this year. The company says it is “the world’s smallest drone” and can use its full-frame mirrorless interchangeable lens Alpha camera to capture HD footage. It is compatible with the Alpha 7S series, Alpha 7R series, Alpha 9 series, FX3 and even the Alpha 1 (Sony’s new 8K 50 megapixel flagship product).

The Airpeak S1 can last 22 minutes in the air with no load and up to 12 minutes with the camera in tow. It has a maximum speed of 55.9 mph, can maintain stability in winds of up to 44.7 mph, and is equipped with five image sensors. These sensors capture images that Sony vision sensing processors and proprietary algorithms need to be able to estimate the aircraft’s spatial position and orientation in real time. This apparently allows stable flight even in places where it is difficult to receive information from global navigation satellite systems.

Given that this machine will be flying around with thousands of dollars worth of cameras, its ability to remain stable under strong wings and harsh environmental conditions is critical. (Of course, no one wants shaky drone footage.) On the device’s official page, Sony shared a video showing a wind-resistant test of the drone conducted by the Japan Aerospace Research and Development Agency.

Sony has developed a mobile app for iOS and iPadOS called Airpeak Flight that serves as a remote control for the drone. It can operate the aircraft, camera and gimbal, and can also be used to check images taken by a connected mirrorless camera. However, to manage the device, create flight plans and manage flight logs, users must access the Airpeak Base web application.

The Airpeak S1 is expected to begin shipping in September of this year. The purchase of the drone itself alone will cost buyers 1,100,000 yen or about $10,000 (including tax) – the Gremsy gimbal mount required to attach the Alpha camera to the device is sold separately.