In a fun filled launch event today, Parrot announced their new MiniDrones – the Rolling Spider and Jumping Sumo. With the sounds of flying, jumping and crashing (oh, and screams), Parrot announced that the products will be available from Australian retailers in August but pre-orders are being taken online from today. Chris Roberts, APAC Managing Director for Parrot gave a brief history of the company and when posed the question of why they make toys, his response was essentially “why not?” – and we can definitely see that with the two products released today. Of course, we got plenty of hands on time and lots of attempts to master the controls of the products.
The Rolling Spider is an ultra-compact flying drone which looks like a very miniature version of the AR Drone. Weighing in at just 55 grams, the Rolling Spider is built with a polyamide structure, 4 propellers and features detachable wheels on a carbon fibre axis. The drone is comfortable flying indoor and outdoor piloted from the FreeFlight 3 application for iOS, Android, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1*. While other Parrot products are connected by WiFi, the Rolling Spider uses Bluetooth 4.0 smart technology.
The Rolling Spider was certainly a quick little flyer, zipping through the air with ease. However, not only does it fly though the skies, it can also climb walls with the included wheels. This allows the Rolling Spider to roll along the ground and give the impression of climbing up walls – pretty impressive! Additionally, the wheels add an extra barrier between the spinning props and possible objects in the way, like people or pets. The drone will automatically shutdown should it detect something in the way.
The Rolling Spider is controlled by the FreeFlight 3 application – which is rather easy to use and offers some quick controls to impress your friends. Firstly, you can simply take off with a push of a button and the drone will hover and await for further instructions. Using your phones accelerometer, you can then instruct the drone to fly. The app will also allow you to flip the drone a full 360 degrees by simply double tapping the screen. While the Rolling Spider does have a camera attached, there is no live feed available. Instead, the camera is used to stablise the drone during flight and also enables you to take snapshots which can be recorded to the 1GB of onboard memory.
The drone has a flight time of 8 minutes with a recharge time of approximately 1 hour. The Rolling Spider will be available in Blue, White and Red and includes a set of 12 “faces” (stickers) which can be positioned on the nose of the drone to personalise it.
The Jumping Sumo is a drone with personality – and if scary flying objects aren’t your thing, then you’ll be pleased to know that the Jumping Sumo does not fly. Instead, the Jumping Sumo runs at an impressive 7 km/h and can propel itself up to jump over obstacles. If there is a chair, table or obstacle in the way, the Jumping Sumo can jump up to 80cm in the air either straight up or forward over the object.
The Jumping Sumo can also be placed into a compact mode by pushing both wheels inwards, allowing it to enhance agility and roll through tight areas. The FreeFlight 3 application connects to the Jumping Sumo via 2.5GHz or 5GHz WiFi and features a number of animations to impress – including spinning around, rolling upside down and punching/kicking an object. You’ll also be able to configure waypoints and actions via the ‘road plan’ feature.
The Jumping Sumo also includes stickers to personalise and is available in Black, Khaki Brown and White. The Jumping Sumo also makes sounds to give it an emotional connection with the user. When you’re performing tricks, driving fast etc the Jumping Sumo will let you know it’s excited by a few small cherps.
The Jumping Sumo has a running time of 20 minutes and a charge time of approximately 1 hour.
Both the Rolling Spider and Jumping Sumo will be available from Apple, Harvey Norman, EB Games, Myer and other leading retailers from August 2014. The RRP for the Rolling Spider and Jumping Sumo is $139.99 and $219.99 respectively.
We’re excited to try review these products and put them through the paces, so look out for those in the coming months. Meanwhile, we will release some video from the launch in the near future.
* Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 app available in October 2014