Parrot has unveiled its first drone to ditch the quadrocopter design, dubbed the Disco, that instead features wings to help it fly.
Pilots can simply toss the Disco into the air thanks to a propeller in the rear. It will take off and land on its own, as an ultrasound camera on the bottom assists to prevent crash landings.
The announcement came at CES 2016 in Las Vegas, and marks a big leap for consumer drones as it moves away from the quadrocopter design. It’s certainly not the first take on a fixed-wing drone, however it doesn’t require pilots to adjust pitch and yaw like other fixed-wing drone designs on the market.
According to TechCrunch, Parrot has been designing the Disco for two years, and has achieved the ability to have it fly for 45 minutes while reaching speeds close to 50 mph. It features a 1080p, 14-megapixel fisheye lens – similar to Parrot’s Bebop 2 quadrocopter – and has a 2-kilometer range. Weighing over 700 grams, the Disco will need to be registered under the FAA’s new rules.
Like most drones on the market, the Disco is controlled over WiFi through the company’s FreeFlight smartphone app or through the Skycontroller hardware. Ditching the helicopter-like design and moving to a jet-design, airspeed has become important on the Disco. It has a “pitot tube” that measures just how fast you’re going.
The Verge was able to gain some hands-on access with the Disco while at CES. The publication found it has a foam design, with a plastic frame surrounding it for protection on landings. It has replaceable parts and both wings are detachable.
Parrot hasn’t announced a specific release date for the Disco, but says it hopes to have it to the market by the end of 2016. Pricing hasn’t been detailed, and the company says it’s a prototype for now – things could change.
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