The latest drone made by high-tech company Parrot has a distinctive wing-shape that enables the drone to dive through the sky at high-speeds. In keeping with its musical naming theme, it’s been called the “Disco drone.”
Parrot has said that its prototype is the first ready-to-fly wing-shaped drone for their consumers, which they can pick up, toss into the air, and pilot. Parrot pioneered the quadcopter craze with its AR. Drone, but it now seems with the Disco drone they are trying to get into the fixed-wing game.
Obviously, this is not a groundbreaking idea with the military and the model aircraft community already using fixed-winged planes for years now.
However, there are some important differences:
- It has removable wings that help when stowing away.
- Launching the drone involves giving it a shake to start the motor, then you throw it like you would throw a paper plane.
- The autopilot software is improved, even trained, to ignore human controls if it’s going to end up in a disaster.
- When launched it will climb to an altitude of 164 feet (50 meters) where it begins a circular holding pattern until the user is ready to take control.
- It can be controlled from a smartphone app, and also supports standard RC controllers.
Watch the Parrot Disco drone in action:
According to engadget:
“Parrot’s Skycontroller and FreeFlight 3 app will help you get the most out of the experience, leveraging the onboard camera — which is the same as the BeBop line — to record or stream video. You can even connect a set of FPV (first-person view) glasses to the app for an immersive airborne experience.
“The top speed has been clocked at just under 50 MPH, with a radius of about 1.25 miles defining its range. We’re told you should get 45 minutes of airtime with its rechargeable battery, and juicing it up from zero should only take about one hour. The lightweight plastic body can be broken down to a more portable size by removing the wings, and if it ends up in the trees, don’t worry, the parts are replaceable.”
The 1,080p 14MP onboard camera is mounted on the nose of the drone, giving a bird’s eye perspective during flight, and also sends back real-time telemetry and flight data. The camera has software-based image stabilization providing the best possible video.
It is powered by an 8-inch propeller and a high-speed engine, giving it a top speed of just under 50 mph (80 kph). Flight time is around 45 minutes with a charge time of about one hour, and has a range of around 1.25 miles (2.01 kms).
The Disco drone also comes with an autopilot function, with the ability to set a flight plan using the company’s Flight Plan software. Then, when it comes time to land, the drone has an auto-land mode where it flies back slowly to its take-off point, and then circles slowly to land.
The drone’s wing span is about 3.2 feet (1 meter) and is 3.3 feet (50cm) long, and due to its body being made from foam it only weighs about 1.5 pounds (700 grams).
The Disco has also been fitted with all sorts of sensors such as gyroscope, altimeter, magnetometer, and airspeed Pilot tube to name just a few. The sensors help with gauging the environment, speed, and distance from the ground. This helps the drone to stabilize during flight and to perform various tricks.
Vanessa Loury Parrot’s PR director told Wired:
“It is the first easy-to-use and ready to fly ‘flying wing’ for consumers. The advantage is it is more elegant, more graceful. You really fly like a bird.
“The idea is to enable people to simply say “turn right, turn left” and the autopilot will do the rest, to make it stable. It’s impossible to have any wrong manoeuvres with the Disco. It will never fall down.”
The drone is still in the prototype stage, but Parrot states it will come to market in 2016. The price is still unknown.