It's a good time to be shopping for a drone. Affordable prices and easy controls are making the hobby more accessible. And now, with the release of a fleet of mini-drones inspired by remote control cars, even the kids are getting up to speed.
Parrot, the French company that released the first-ever consumer drone, unveiled the first look Tuesday at a family of vehicles that aim to give customers a new view of land, sea and air. The company is preparing to release autonomous quadcopters, boats and “jumping drones” that can either drive in a straight line or jump 2.5 feet in the air.
Each product, there are thirteen different models in all, is expected to be released in the fall and cost between $99 and $189. “It's a nice way for people to get used to drones, and they don't have to spend money to do it,” said Michael Perez, vice president of sales at Parrot.
Indeed, gone are the days when it took thousands of dollars and a deep technical know-how to get your hands on a drone. Parrot has also integrated LED lights, enabling night flying, and made each device controllable with a free app for iOS and Android.
The Minidrone fleet is also the first product of its kind to be marketing specifically at children aged seven and up, with many of the devices coming with POLICE or flame stickers tailored for kids.
The Jumping Drone can drive for 20 minutes, and at 8 mph for short bursts. It comes with a camera and two-way audio that let users livestream their trip through the house, then have a conversation with someone in another room. The Hydrofoil drone can cruise along the surface of a swimming pool at 6 mph, and the Airborne quadcopter can do flips in the air and stay up for about 10 minutes at 11 mph.
But you can only play with the Parrot Minidrones for a few minutes, a battery problem that's afficted almost every upcoming UAV device. The UDI 818A and Blade Nano QX RTF also fly for about 10 minutes, but cost barely more than $50. The difference here is that the Parrot Minidrones come with a second battery and promise to charge in 60 to 90 minutes, unless you buy a separate souped up charger that will re-load your drone in 20 minutes.