Makey Awards 2012 Nominee 05: Parrot USA, Most Repairable

We were all pretty wowed back in January of 2010 when Parrot introduced their Parrot.AR drone. Wowed because A) it’s a quadrotor, and we were still kind of on our collective honeymoon with the quadrotor concept in general; B) its fancy fly-by-wire system makes it so stable and easy to fly that virtually no training or practice is required; C) it’s controlled wirelessly using a smartphone or tablet; D) it has full telemetry, accepting wireless commands and sending back real-time video, E) you can use it to play augmented-reality flying video games, F) it’s made with carbon-fiber composite, specially designed propellers, and other high-tech, high-performance bits.

There are probably a few more letters I could add, but you get the point: The Parrot.AR drone is manifold awesome. And on top of it all, the Parrot.AR drone teardown on iFixIt saw one of the highest repairability scores that our pals over there have ever awarded. They cite the Parrot.AR’s repair-friendly design, the use of easily demountable fasteners, connectors, and subassemblies, and great repair support from Parrot itself, including readily available replacement parts and a series of how-to-fix it videos on the Parrot.AR site. And while a certain amount of repair-friendly design is just common sense in any R/C aircraft, common sense is not always so common, and even in the R/C market Parrot’s repairability still goes above and beyond the norm.

So congratulations, Parrot! Welcome to the running for the 2012 Makeys.


46 thoughts on “Makey Awards 2012 Nominee 05: Parrot USA, Most Repairable

  1. I read this and was interested. I’d somehow missed anything about the product before. I went to the Amazon page for what I believe is the same product. The reviews are mixed, but in general it looks like Parrot dropped the ball on customer service with pretty much everyone who needs parts.

    Reading between the lines it looks like there was a larger demand for replacement parts than Parrot had anticipated and they ran out. Rather than pass that information on to customers they played games like claiming that they hadn’t received returned parts.

    It also appears that there were software features that were advertised as being in the initial offering, but weren’t. One of Parrot’s comments says they will be in a future release. I’m a software developer and I know how these things happen, but Parrot should have made this clear rather than hoping no one would notice.

    Since this award is for repairability, it seems that maybe a reality check is in order. just because the product was designed to be repairable does not mean they are a company worthy of praise. Qualities like honesty and integrity should be a part of the equation when rating products.

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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