Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Skydio wins the U.S. Army’s short-range drone recon contract

The U.S. Army has selected the American drone manufacturer Skydio for its Short Range Reconnaissance (SRR) Program of Record. The program seeks to field a low-cost, rapidly-deployable scout drone that can be carried by individual soldiers.

Skydio says they were awarded a $20.2 million/year contract to deliver its X2D to Army’s SRR program, ensuring Soldiers have access to the world’s most advanced autonomous drone technology. The Firm-Fixed-Price Five Year Production Other Transaction (OT) agreement will be worth up to $99.8 million over its five-year duration. The SRR program aims to equip soldiers with a rapidly deployable small UAS solution to conduct Reconnaissance and Surveillance (R&S) activities.

After evaluating proposals from over 30 small UAS SRR vendors and rigorous testing of five finalists in partnership with the Defense Innovation Unit, the U.S. Army chose Skydio for final integration based on Soldier feedback and design review packages intended to assess the overall product performance, quality, and production readiness.

The Skydio X2D drone measures 26.1″ X 22.4″ X 8.3″ when unfolded and 11.9″ X 5.5″ X 3.6″ when folded. The entire drone, with its battery, weighs about 1.3 kg has a maximum flight speed of 25 mph (40 km/h) and a flight time of up to 35 minutes.

The X2D is operated by its own proprietary controller that features a 6.8″ LED touchscreen with a 720p video feed, an internal antenna, and a fold-down protective cover. The controller can communicate with the drone up to 6 km (3.6 miles) away over a 5 GHz wireless connection.

The X2D is powered by Skydio Autonomy Enterprise, an AI-driven autonomous flight engine that enables unparalleled 360-degree obstacle avoidance. In addition, the drone features dual color optical, thermal sensors capable of capturing 4K videos and is equipped with GPS-based night flight, making it a versatile fit for round-the-clock operations. It features a foldable carbon fiber and magnesium frame and can be readied for deployment in under 75 seconds, the company claims.

“This is an exciting milestone for Skydio, the Army, and most importantly, the men and women who serve our country. For drones under 20 pounds, civilian drone technology has raced ahead of traditional defense systems. With the SRR program, our Soldiers will now have access to the most advanced capabilities in the world in this class,” said Skydio CEO Adam Bry. “Skydio drones deliver unparalleled situational awareness and ease of use in the most demanding situations thanks to Skydio Autonomy. We are proud to work with the Army and look forward to fielding these units while continuing to pioneer the capabilities that provide our troops with the real-time data needed to successfully and safely complete their missions.”