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Skydio 2 Drone: Better autonomy than Tesla? You be the judge

What would happen if you set up a Skydio 2 drone to follow a Tesla Model 3 in Full Self-Driving (Beta) mode? Would it perform as well as the automobile? Better? Buckle up; we’re about to find out.

We already know that the brains inside the Skydio 2 are pretty impressive. The AI and obstacle avoidance are so good on the drone, it really freaked out Casey Neistat – who couldn’t run away fast enough. What’s interesting about watching Skydio 2 footage is that you can almost see the machine making its decisions. No sooner has it detected and corrected for an obstacle and it’s already thinking one or two steps ahead. What’s more, it seems to do this so smoothly it’s eery. It’s almost like there’s a really good pilot on the sticks. But is that pilot as smart as the brains inside a Tesla Model 3?

Someone decided to put them both to the test.

Head to head video

The Tesla, with the appropriate software upgrade, is capable of driving in Full Self-Driving (FSD) mode. And so YouTube creator Brandon M (“I love all things technology, especially Apple, Tesla, renewable energy to name a few!”) decided to create a challenge. The Tesla 3 would drive a route in FSD mode, using Beta 2020.40.8.11. A Skydio 2 would follow behind.

What would happen? This:


We were pretty stunned watching the Skydio 2 thread its way above those tight streets. What was just as impressive was its ability to avoid telephone and power lines, which could have caused disaster.

Skydio 2 Tesla
Threading the needle: Skydio 2 avoided wires in this flight

And the Tesla?

Well, it did a fair job. But there were some hiccups, such as when it came too close for comfort to a parked vehicle @ the 1:28 mark:

Skydio 2 Tesla
Eeeeeyowch! That was close…


While the Tesla faltered at times or appeared to slow down and process its environment, the Skydio 2 flew with confidence. And if it happened to get behind? Well, it would catch up with a flourish. Just check out this slick move:

Now that is one amazing move, Skydio 2!


To be fair, the Tesla has to do a lot more calculating than the drone. It has to identify pedestrians, determine that a Stop sign means “Stop” – even determine that colour the light is and whether to slide through on a yellow or brake. So there’s a ton going on.

That being said, the Skydio 2’s AI really rocks.

Now when can you build one big enough for passengers?