If I had to guess, I would have predicted that Parrot would announce an outdoors quadcopter with better camera than the AR.Drone to compete with the DJI Phantom Vision, but instead they went even further into the toy realm with a "MiniDrone" that has no camera at all. The Verge reports:

As the name suggests, it really is a smaller quadrocopter cut from the same cloth as the AR.Drone. You can hold it in the palm of your hand but it actually has quite a bit of power. We used it inside and it zipped across a room very quickly. Its four rotors spin with ferocity and sound like a swarm of bees attacking, but the MiniDrone keeps its balance and it surprisingly easy to control.

It's controlled just like the AR.Drone using an iPhone app. The makers say that they spent quite a bit of time to make sure that the drone would be stable and easy to use — particularly important since Parrot hopes kids will use the MiniDrone. In practice it seems their work has paid off: you can control the pitch and yaw using one thumb and altitude and rotation using another. You can also use the accelerometer in the iPhone to change the drone's direction. It may sound complicated, but the computer on board the drone makes it very difficult to spin out of control, and at any time you can release both thumbs and the drone will instantly return to a stable hover. It's so stable, in fact, that we were able to bounce off of walls and hit it in air without knocking it out of the skies.

By default the MiniDrone comes with large wheels, which primarily serve to let the toy roll around. They become particularly useful as a protective barrier around the rotors, allowing the drone to bounce around without getting destroyed.

On the tech side of things, Parrot's using Bluetooth 4.0 to communicate with the drone, and the company says that offers a maximum range in clear air of about 160 feet. We didn't have any issues with range during testing, but you may do well to be concerned about the battery life — the company promises 6-7 minutes on a full charge. At least it will be a very fun few minutes.

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Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on January 5, 2014 at 7:41pm

I like the Rover.  I'm looking for something I can operate over the internet, as a "home security droid".  But it would have to be able to negotiate stairs, and I don't think that thing will.  I've seen the SpyKee, but that's not quite it either.

Along with really good home automation, this is another thing that I just can't believe isn't available yet.

Comment by Gary McCray on January 5, 2014 at 7:58pm

Great Video!

I Like the AR drone with the wheel thing but I really liked the Sumo Bot.

But then this is what I am building at home so I guess you can tell I might be prejudiced:

Comment by HeliStorm on January 5, 2014 at 8:33pm

Well, I never would have seen that coming. I am really surprised it doesn't have even a basic camera, as many toy quadcopters are carrying cameras these days.

Comment by Oliver on January 5, 2014 at 11:48pm

Hah! Gary, you beat me to it, I was going to show you that jumping Sumo thing! Now, I want to see that two-wheeled beast of yours leap up onto a table, LOL!

Comment by John Githens on January 6, 2014 at 7:38am

As in the video, mayhem will be happening, and many of both will be sold. Yet another test of parenting skills! One appears to be a direct response to this toy (friend of mine just bought several as presents). Many sizes and types of UAVs were announced in 2013. More are sure to come during 2014. Plus more robots on the ground.

Comment by Daniel Allen on January 6, 2014 at 8:43am

Wow it has optical flow and sonic sensor... thats really insane for the size of the device.

Comment by Crashpilot1000 on January 6, 2014 at 1:41pm

I like the groundvehicle.


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