New minidrones from Parrot: A VTOL and a new quad with powered accessories

Parrot launched some fun new mini drones this morning that are about to make your drone educational programs even more awesome, particularly access to the Parrot SDK for app development.  Here is a nice writeup in TechCrunch and more details on the Parrot webpage.

Introducing 'Swing',  a new vertical takeoff, transitional vehicle. This thing is really fast and comes with a nice new bluetooth controller that makes piloting mini drones even easier.  Swing is definitely unique!

'Mambo' is an upgraded quad with power out of the Lego-style bricks to run accessories, including a little cannon for light plastic pellets and a claw for picking up and dropping things.  For you DIY folks, the interesting thing here is that power is available to solder on other accessories (think Raspberry Pi, LEDs, etc...).  

For the educators out there, when combined with the Tickle app for programming, this should make your drone classes even more interesting (e.g. whichever team drops the pin the closest to the target on an autonomous mission through an classroom obstacle course wins).

So while you are studying for your Part 107 exam, lets remember to have a little fun! 

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Comment by Darren on August 30, 2016 at 1:37pm

I've always imagined a Tail-sitting VTOL X-Wing Fighter. Takes off and initially flies like a multi-rotor with the nose vertical, but then as forward flight creates more and more lift on the wing surfaces, it would progress into forward flight bringing the nose down to horizontal. best example is the flying xmas tree *link below... Why do we waste all the weight and energy with complicated setups like tilting of engines...

RC Flying Christmas Tree by Otto Dieffenbach

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on August 30, 2016 at 4:02pm

I've got experience with the X Plus One and it's unflyable. Impossible to see orientation in forward flight. Perhaps in fully autonomous mode it can work, but heaven help the pilot who actually tries to control it.

Comment by Gary McCray on August 30, 2016 at 5:35pm

I designed this K frame one which might actually work a bit better.

At least the wings would actually work like proper wings even if it does look like Snoopy ought to be flying it.

But the Parrot one is a light weight foam toy and looks like it should handle running into the side of the house a few time

Comment by Gabriel DeVault on August 30, 2016 at 7:20pm

I hope you guys have seen the Quadshot. It's been around for ~5 years and is freaking awesome. How these guys have not received greater recognition I don't know. People keep "inventing" new products that fail to work as well as this thing.

Comment by Gabriel DeVault on August 30, 2016 at 7:22pm

I failed to mention the company is Transition Robotics, and they also have the industrial version the JumpShip. Which is quite similar to Gary's concept (though I'm sorry they were several years ahead of you).

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on August 30, 2016 at 8:54pm

@Gabriel: It seems that both Quadshot and JumpShip have been discontinued:

Comment by Gary McCray on August 30, 2016 at 9:06pm

Hi Gabriel,

I was very aware of the Quadshots including watching their early videos.

The big problem with it was response to wind, they had too much surface in both directions to make stable landings in any kind of wind.

I notice that although their site is still open the last message from them is re a shipment of foam on a container headed for Oakland on March 13.

I was unaware of the Jumpship and would definitely like to see a video of it in operation.

Or actually any recent message indicating they ever actually flew one.

It seems a much better design than the Quadshot which was way too light for all that vertical (sitting on it's tail) wing area and often got blown over just sitting there.

I still think the Jumpship still has a fair amount of unnecessary central wing spar which would normally still cause trouble with drift when landing and taking off.

These things really need to weathervane with their wings perpendicular to the wind for vertical flight and have minimal wind resistance when they have done so.

Main thing wrong with the Parrot shown here in hover mode no matter which way it is facing to the wind when vertical is that it is getting blown all over the place (X wing just won't work for that reason alone).

Of course, it is way inefficient for wings when flying horizontally as well.

The Jump ship is an Octo and looks to me like it would work.

My Quadroplane is a smallish quad and is simpler and less elegant, but should be reasonably easy to build with some G10, carbon tubes and some simple pre-cut foam wings.

And if you turn it sideways to the wind when taking off or landing vertically, the wind will absolutely have minimal effect on it even including a teardrop fuselage.

ArduPilot already has automatic weathervaning capability built in and it could easily be adapted to this use.

CG should be easy to maintain properly over the wing chord for stable level horizontal flight and 4 elevons should be able to permit very good horizontal flight control.

In the meantime if you ever do come across an actual video of the Jumpship, please link it here.

Best regards,


Comment by Gabriel DeVault on August 30, 2016 at 9:07pm

Full disclosure, I have worked with (not for) and am good friends of the TRI guys. The quadshots are out of stock, but the flight controllers are not. Truly a marvelous transitioning flight controller. I have seen the JumpShip fly and I do not believe it is "discontinued". It is a marvel of engineering and is one of the most efficient VTOLs I'm aware of.

I share Chris's opinion of the X Plus One, I just wanted you guys to know there ARE good tail-sitting VTOLs out there.

Comment by Gary McCray on August 30, 2016 at 9:24pm

Hope you are right about Jumpship, I really want to see a video of it flying especially horizontally.

Good to know about the transitioning flight controller.

An X wing will work really well in somewhere with an atmosphere and no wind and no gravity, just not absolutely sure where that is yet.



Comment by Bart Theys on August 31, 2016 at 5:10am

Looks fun to fly! (when there is no wind)
@Chris, at our university we applied reference frame re-orientation and some signal mixing to make these kind of tailsitter vtols more intuitive to control:

It can be tuned for different transition angles and can also be interesting for just flying at high speeds with a regular quad (or FPV racer).


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