If you’re into drones but already bored with all the rotor-blade options buzzing about, Parrot’s just-announced “Disco” drone is likely to have you dancing on the spot with expectant glee.
With its fixed-wing design, Parrot’s latest consumer drone can be set in flight by throwing it like you would a paper plane. But while your paper-based effort might take a nosedive, the Disco’s clever on-board technology enables it to quickly balance itself, gain altitude, and fly autonomously in a circle till you’re ready to take the controls.
Although it looks pretty hefty at almost a meter wide, the Disco’s mainly foam build means it tips the scales at just 1.5 pounds (about 700 grams). Pilots can fly the machine using Parrot’s SkyController device or an RC controller, and thanks to its aerodynamic design, flight sessions can last an impressive 45-minutes on a single charge.
It can really move too, with a single rotor at the rear able to propel Parrot’s Disco drone to speeds of up to 50 mph (80 km/h).
Indeed, the Disco’s speed and design should allow for some neat video sequences unavailable to users of more popular copter-driven machines, with footage captured via its 14-megapixel HD front-nose camera – the same found on Parrot’s Bebop 2 drone. Three-axis digital stabilization that synchronizes with the Disco’s multiple sensors also works to iron out bumpy video.
It’s possible to live stream imagery back to a set of first-person-view goggles, which’ll make for some pretty exhilarating flight experiences as it tears through the sky, majestically swooping and turning as it goes. Just be sure to stay on the right side of the law when putting it through its paces.
The drone’s automatic landing feature appears to involve the machine skidding along the ground somewhere close to the controller, though you’ll want the terrain to be soft to minimize the chance of damage.
While the video above shows Team Parrot has made plenty of progress with the Disco, there’s still work to be done. As a result, the Paris-based outfit isn”t able to offer a price or specific launch date, saying only that it’ll be taking to the skies sometime this year.
As for its intriguing name, we’re guessing it’s because – if you squint hard enough (we mean really hard) and use your imagination – the black-and-white machine bears a passing resemblance to John Travolta’s Tony Manero character from the 1977 blockbuster Saturday Night Fever. And just like Manero, Parrot’s Disco drone certainly looks like it can pull a few moves.