Sony Airpeak drone unveiled at CES 2021, this year

The Sony Airpeak drone was unveiled at CES 2021, with a sequence of product shots and an impressive teaser video providing a thrilling first look at Sony’s latest flying machine.

And what an entrance it was, with Airpeak filmed flying over a snowy landscape while pulling a Sony A7S III and following a concept Sony Vision S vehicle around a race circuit.

Our key query regarding Sony Airpeak was answered enthusiastically in the brief demo video – what kind of drone would it be? With its somewhat frightening wingspan, clever retractable landing gear, and high-end Sony Alpha payload, there’s no question that this would be a drone for experienced cinematographers (at least for the time being).

New evidence leads to the same result, which is a shame for all of us wishing Sony will go head-to-head with DJI in an aerial photography dogfight with a Sony Mavic Air 2 counterpart.

However, Sony has left the door open for potential Airpeak iterations – may we see a commercial drone flying from the Alpha bunker? What else did the CES 2021 prototype, as well as an even more recent one, tell us about Sony’s first Airpeak drone?

When will the Sony drone be out, and how much will it cost?

Sony reiterated the Airpeak launch date stated in its initial official announcement in November 2020 at CES 2021.

Sony will start a new company aimed for commercial photography and video processing in the spring of 2021,” it said in a brief statement. For readers all over the world, this means we can expect an appearance (or at least more information) in May 2021.

Airpeak is referred to by Sony as a “project” and “new business,” rather than a single product. As a result, the drone seen in the CES 2021 prototype may very well be the first of a new line of Airpeak drones.

In previous years, Sony has designated new channels as “projects” that will gradually evolve into full-fledged goods. Sony’s Project Morpheus launch in 2014, for example, was an early development framework for PlayStation VR, which was released two years later.

Of course, Sony Airpeak is a separate division, and it appears to be nearly complete. However, it’s likely to be the launch of a major new sub-brand that will eventually house many drones.

The Sony Airpeak is obviously a high-end drone that will most definitely compete with the DJI Inspire 2.

Sony hasn’t said much regarding potential Airpeak prices so far, and with so few specifics, estimating a ballpark number is difficult.

Depending on which of DJI’s Zenmuse camera modules you like, the Inspire 2 comes in a variety of sets. It’s still unclear if Sony would market the Airpeak drone with a Sony Alpha camera, such as the A7S III or A9 II.

The DJI Inspire 2 begins at $3,299 / £3,059 / AU$4,699 even without a camera. That’s a rough estimate of how much a skilled drone like this costs, but we’ll refresh this page when we learn more about Airpeak’s official pricing.

News, gossip, and features about the Sony drone public service announcement

Sony has been holding a close lid on gossip about the Airpeak drone since its unveiling at CES 2021. We weren’t able to deduce anything from what the organization had publicly disclosed, apart from some material from the official Airpeak website and a promotional video seen at the January gathering.

Sony announced on November 9, 2020, that it had “launched a new initiative for drones in the area of AI robotics,” and that Airpeak will “help the imagination of content makers to the maximum degree possible, seeking to lead to the continued growth of the film industry, as well as increased productivity and savings in different industries.”

Sony then followed up at CES 2021 with this much more specific announcement: “In the spring of 2021, Sony will start a new company aimed for skilled photography and video processing as the first step of this initiative.” A drone with “an Alpha mirrorless camera to catch high quality, full-frame aerial imagery and film” may be one example. This is shown in the above-mentioned promotional video (below).

Despite its scale, Sony claims that Airpeak is “the industry’s smallest type of drone that can be fitted with the Alpha device” and that it “aims to add to the field of entertainment while still exploring fresh artistic expression possibilities.”


For a long time, that was the only real detail we had about Sony’s forthcoming drone project, but a newly published second promotional video seemed to show what might be a crucial strength in its fight against DJI drones.

This newer video (below) displays the Airpeak being measured in a wind tunnel and demonstrating its ability to endure wind speeds of over 19 m/s. While the wind seemed to be coming from one direction at a reasonably constant pace, rather than any more realistic gusts, the camera footage stayed relatively stable.

Even then, the Airpeak’s nearest rival, the Inspire 2, can only tolerate maximum wind speeds of about 10m/s, making this a remarkable achievement. In its wind tunnel simulations, Sony hinted at half of this for the Airpeak.

These experiments at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency indicate that Sony is “aiming for a high level of wind resistance while we begin improving Airpeak’s frame,” according to Sony.

Sony seems to have identified a niche in the pro filming market with its new drone, the Airpeak, which is intended to be ideal for large film productions searching for stunning, full-frame aerial images.

We also expect the Airpeak to come with what seem to be pairs of obstacle avoidance sensors on the front and back, as well as another camera above that, based on early photographs.

Sony said the drone will be used in “the world of AI robotics” when it was first announced. It’s unclear if any of these extra cameras and sensors can aid the pilot in flying or shooting the Airpeak drone, so we’re excited to find out.

Infrared sensors are used by competitors including the DJI Inspire 2 to identify and avoid hazards, and sophisticated visual detection algorithms are used to lock onto objects. Sony Alpha cameras are already masters of the above, so it’ll be fascinating to see how this all works with the Airpeak device and where Sony could create new breakthroughs.

Also, although the Airpeak gimbal has obviously been designed for Sony cameras such as the Sony A7S III (below), we’re curious as to which cameras it would support and whether (as seems to be the case) it would be limited to Alpha versions only.

Can there be more Sony drones in the future?

The introduction of such a high-end specialist drone seems to put an end to earlier expectations that Airpeak will compete with DJI’s famous commercial drones, such as the DJI Mavic Air 2.

Airpeak, according to Sony, is a modern company aimed at “technical photography and video processing.” However, Sony’s statement that this was just the “first step of this endeavor” gave hobbyists a glimmer of hope.

Might a Sony drone, rather than a specialized rig for actors, become the flying equivalent of a Sony RX100 VII? We’d love to see it, but it is impossible for the time being.

However, several patents filed by Sony in recent years have provided us a peek into what the idea could look like. Of course, patents don’t often contribute to finished products; in practice, they’re more frequently than not just wireframe designs. They may, however, indicate that Sony is planning a more consumer-oriented drone.

Sony Alpha Rumors discovered the first patent on a Sony drone in 2018. This demonstrated a folding mechanism in which both of the rotors fold into a square holder in front of a touchscreen controller. The premise is that you should operate the drone without the touchscreen holder attached.

This principle was expanded in an October 2019 patent that pointed at other functionality such as motion regulation – for example, one page includes an idea titled “stretch out palm under the flying unit.”

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Surprisingly, all of these patents are for a product that looks more like an entry-level drone like the AirSelfie 2, which debuted at CES 2018, than a high-end drone like the current Sony Airpeak.

However, one thing is obvious from both the patents and the official Airpeak announcement: Sony’s drone concept is an AI-powered flying camera that does a lot of the heavy lifting for you in terms of both flying and image-taking. It remains to be seen if Sony can apply this philosophy to a commercial drone that can compete with DJI.

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