Sony flies into the drone space with the Airpeak

Usually, when you hear the word Sony, you rightly associate the word with sturdy electronic products like televisions, sound systems, video and digital cameras; mobile phones and the play station.

Now you can add drones to that impressive catalogue.

The Japanese electronics company unfurled the wings of their new product – which they call the Airpeak drone – for the first time at the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which will run virtually until January 14 this year.

“Sony launched the Airpeak brand with the goal to further develop today’s drone technology while achieving the utmost in value creation,” the company said in a statement. “As the first phase of this project, Sony will launch a new business targeted for professional photography and video production in the spring of 2021. In order to fully support the creativity of video creators, the payload of the drone can be equipped with an Alpha mirrorless camera to capture high quality, full frame aerial photography and video. Airpeak, the industry’s smallest class of drone that can be equipped with the Alpha system, is capable of dynamic filming and precise, stable flight, and aims to contribute to the world of entertainment while also pursuing new possibilities for creative expression.”

Hi. I am Airpeak, from Sony

While the drone will not be immediately available on the market, their target niche of high-end photography and video production is sure set to make DJI nervous about its long-term hold on the Japanese market, whose government projects the world’s biggest drone maker is set to lose anyway, after Tokyo announced in November last year that, from 2022 onward, it would end the use of DJI drones for government business.

This ban was allegedly triggered by a 2017 Chinese intelligence law, which made Tokyo uneasy because it “mandates that any Chinese organisation must cooperate with the government in providing information. As such, Japan announced the ‘policy regarding the procurement of UAS by government agencies”.

Not that it is DJI’s fault that the law was made, but all their protestations of innocence – even going to the extent of designing a government edition drone that works on special software with will not connect to the internet at all – seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

The Japanese government then indicated that drones to be purchased for government use would come from “highly secure models” – which Sony saw as a que to act. Without revealing much, the company started teasing its entrance into the drone space, exactly a week after the government announced their DJI ban on November 3.

“The recent proliferation of drones has contributed greatly to the delivery of previously unseen images, as well as to workflow efficiency and energy savings in the industrial sector,” said Sony at the time. “Sony has assigned the “Airpeak” brand to reflect its aspiration to contribute to the further evolvement and the creation of the unprecedented value through its imaging and sensing technology as well as 3R technologies (Reality, Real-time, and Remote) in the drone area.

“Airpeak will support the creativity of video creators to the fullest extent possible, aiming to contribute to the further development of the entertainment industry as well as to improved efficiency and savings in various industries. Airpeak will also promote this project to enable drone-use with the highest level of safety and reliability in the environments where this has been difficult in the past.”

Among other features, the Airpeak will run on two large batteries shielded from weather elements, has a separate First-Person View (FPV) camera for the pilot and an adjustable gimbal.

As of now, the company has not provided information regarding safety features, payload capacity, price, flight time, or drone weight (other than saying their drone is the smallest class drone with the capacity to hold a Sony Alpha camera system).

Welcome, Sony. The more drones in the world the merrier.

And – especially – the less expensive too.


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