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Parrot unveiled its five new MiniDrones for the first time during CES 2015, and they are new models of the MiniDrones series launched during CES 2014. Last week, Parrot officially announced the new products with the pricing for the US market, over a week after the European announcement, and you will have to wait until September to get them here, in case you cannot wait, you can travel to France where the MiniDrones will be available starting from end of July.

During my hands-on session with Parrot, I got brief demos of three MiniDrones, each dedicated to one element: air, land and sea. All models are priced between $99 to $179, and most are the updated versions of last year’s products.

The Parrot Hydrofoil drone is the brand new addition to the lineup, and it literally “flies on the water”.

Thanks to the drought in California, we could not go to the fountain nearby the Parrot’s office in the Financial district of San Francisco, however, I have seen it in action. All MiniDrones operates under Linux free SDK so developers will be able to create applications.

Read the full article to get a sense of how the new MiniDrones work.

Jumping

The Jumping is a terrestrial robot controlled from a smartphone over Wi-Fi 2.4 or 5 Ghz via the free FreeFlight 3 application.

The first version, Jumping Sumo, was unveiled at CES 2014, and Parrot just announced the US pricing of its latest models in that series on June 23rd. We did not have the time to play with them during CES 2015, so it was great to see briefly what they are capable of in the Parrot office in San Francisco.

What is New:

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Jumping Night MiniDrone by Parrot

  • For its new Jumping MiniDrone, Parrot has strengthened the jumping, has enhanced autopilot for the road and has upgraded the memory to 4GB.
  • Just like the previous model, the Jumping Sumo, the new Jumping MiniDrone can record video in the integrated flash memory or streams live.
  • The Jumping Night version is equipped with two powerful LED with adjustable intensity controllable from your mobile device, so you can see it at night while it is turning or jumping. The previous model did not have that particular feature.
  • Additionally, you can get different design options for each model: the Buzz (mostly white), the Marshall, red and inspired from a firefighter truck, and the Diesel, dark blue and inspired from a military design.
  • Equipped with a more powerful engine, the Jumping Race speeds up to 8 mph, while its sibling is limited to 4 mph.
  • The Race’s wheels are larger and stronger than the Night model, to race on all kinds of terrains.
  • Thanks to the embedded microphone and speaker, both Night and Race provide the ability to talk to someone through or listen to it, just like a walkie-talkie.
  • Additionally, the robots themselves can produce sounds such as biiip, ziiip and more.

Specific features & Hardware

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Jumping Race MiniDrone by Parrot

The main interest of this MiniDrone is the ability to perform automatic movements such as jump, turn fast on itself, roll upside down, push or hit an object, and race, for the Race version.

Thanks to its patented spring-mounted system, both Night and Race can jump vertically or horizontally up to 2.5 feet, and it is quite fun to get them go over or on obstacles.

Mobile application

All MiniDrones can be controlled over Wi-Fi 2.4 or 5 GHz via the free free-flight 3 application, from iOS or Android mobile devices.

User friendly & movements

The mobile application that controls the Parrot Jumping MiniDrones is easy to operate and quite responsive. It is easy to understand instantly how to jump on and from any obstacles.

Other movements available include turn and spinning, the latter is quite fun to try.

Speed control

You can control the speed of the application and the movements as well.

LED control

I have not tried it, however, it is possible to create various lighting signals with the LEDs on the Night version.

Road-Map

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Just like for all the other two series, Airborne and Hydrofoil, you can pre-register a road map with a series of jumps and turns in the mobile application (see photo).

Battery Life

According to the manufacturer, the battery last for 20 minutes, even when recording video, and can be fully charged quite fast in 25 minutes with a 2.6 mph charger, which is not provided with the Jumping MiniDrone.

Pricing and availability

The Jumping MiniDrones Night and Race will retail for $189 and will be available in September in the U.S.

The Night will come in three flavors; Diesel (dark blue), Buzz (white) and Marshall (Red) and the Race will offer three different designs: Max, Tuk-Tuk and Jett (see the product page)

Advertising

Airborne

Mastering the air is one of Parrot’s pioneering innovations, back in late 2009 (we saw it just before the CES 2010 launch), I saw their first drone toy under strict NDA a month before they unveiled the <parrot drone name> at CES 2010.

Today, numerous companies are developing flying drones for the toy industry, and the dronie will soon replace the “old school” selfie.

Unlike the Bebop and other Parrot’s larger flying drones, the tiny Airborne MiniDrone does not allow for video capture, but only for taking snapshots that are stored in the embedded 1 GB flash memory, allowing users to shoot aerial selfies.

What is New:

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Airborne Cargo by Parrot

  • The previous version of Parrot’s flying MiniDrone, the Rolling Spider, was unveiled at CES 2014 alongside the Jumping Sumo.The new Airborne model features a new optimized firmware that enables 9 minutes of flying instead of the previous 5 minutes. The overall balance has been enhanced as well and now, one of the model can carry lego-like bricks that can weigh up to 14 grams.
  • Leveraging its larger drone’s technology, Parrot delivers a great stability for its Airborne MiniDrone, thanks to its sensors (3-axis accelerometer and a 3-axis gyroscope) and its vertical camera compares, every 16 milliseconds, an image of the ground to the previous one to determine the speed of the MiniDrone. The ultrasound sensor and the pressure sensor monitor the Airborne altitude.

Specific features & Hardware

Weighing 63 grams with hull, the Parrot Airborne are flying robots piloted in Bluetooth Smart via the free FreeFlight 3 app for iOS and Android mobile devices.

The Airborne can fly up to 11 mph, turn right and left and perform 90 or 180 degrees flips, and it comes in two distinct models, the Airborne Cargo and the Airborne Night.

The Cargo can carry up to 14 grams lego-like toy  bricks, and the Night features two LED lights with adjustable intensity that can be seen from 20 meters.According to Parrot, the autopilot stabilization still works in the dark.

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Airborne Night and Gargo MiniDrones by Parrot

Battery Life

According to the manufacturer, the battery last for 9 minutes and can be fully charged quite fast in 25 minutes with a 2.6 mph charger, which is not provided with the Airborne MiniDrone.

Pricing and availability

The Airborne Night will be available for $129 in three flavors, the BLAZE (red), the SWAT (black) and the Mc CLANE (dark blue).

The Airborne Cargo TRAVIS (yellow) and the Airborne Cargo MARS (white) will cost only $99 each.

Both versions will have a maximum speed of 11 mph.

Hydrofoil

The hydrofoil is the brand new addition to the Parrot’s MiniDrone series, which is adding water to the fun. Basically, Hydrofoil is Airborne plus water. The first hydrofoil was invented in Italy in 1898 by Enrico Forlanini, the technical principle is the same for this toy: as speed is gained, hydrofoils lift the boat’s hull out of the water, decreasing friction and thus allowing higher speed.

Specific features & Hardware

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The Hydrofoil is piloted using Bluetooth Smart and  the Free-flight 3 mobile application and the flying part can be detached from the boat.

We were not able to try it on the water so I could not enjoy the sight of the Hydrofoil rising out of the water and hovering 2-inch above the surface. However, you can have an idea of how it would work from the demo video shot in the Parrot office.

The Hydrofoil delivers a maximum speed of 5.4 nots (6 mph) on the water and 11 mph in the air, once detached from the floating structure.

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Battery Life

According to the manufacturer, the battery lasts for 7 minutes and can be fully charged in 25 minutes with a 2.6 mph charger, which is not provided with the Jumping MiniDrone.

Pricing and availability

The Parrot Hydrofoil will be available in September in the U. S. for $179 in two versions: the ORAK (black) and the NEWZ (white).

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