Parrot Minidrone Puts Wheels on a Diminutive New Quadcopter

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The Parrot AR. Drone 2.0 has become one of the most visible entries in the quickly developing quadcopter landscape, and now it has a tiny sibling that comes with a fun and surprising addition: a set of wheels.

make_conference_badge-ces2014Unveiled at CES this week, the small drone, aptly named the Parrot MiniDrone is barely larger than your hand. In spite of the size, it flies with surprising capability — a fully automated and choreographed demonstration flight put five of the quads into a variety of tight flight sequences, looping through the air and playing follow-the leader. (The autonomy comes from the drones reading their position on their arena’s multi-patterned carpet, a function that would be interesting to experiment with further). But the rolling entrance and exit elicited the most smiles from the many watchers; with lightweight removable tires, Parrot says that this can roll along walls and ceilings as well as the floor.

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The device uses the same smartphone Parrot interface for flying, but with Bluetooth Low Energy instead of Wi-Fi. It also loses the cameras of its larger cousin, but Parrot touts this as their most stable, easy-to-fly drone yet. And that should help put more pilots in the air. Price and release date has not yet been disclosed.

The company also launched a fixed-wing aerial drone called the SenseFly Drone, aimed at gimbal-free professional mapping and 3D photogrammetry applications, and a leaping, two-wheeled rolling robot called the Jumping Sumo.

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Mike Senese is the Executive Editor of Make: magazine. He is also a TV host, starring in various engineering and science shows for Discovery Channel, including Punkin Chunkin, How Stuff Works, and Catch It Keep It.

An avid maker, Mike spends his spare time tinkering with electronics, doing amateur woodworking, and attempting to cook the perfect pizza.

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