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News Link • Drones

Parrot Rolling Spider

• http://www.wired.com, by Liana Bandziulis

The Parrot Rolling Spider is a Bluetooth LE-enabled quadcopter you control with your phone. It's the latest flying drone from the company that helped popularize smartphone-controlled copters for consumers with its AR Drone products. Weighing only 55 grams and small enough to land on your palm, this tiny take on the quadcopter is great for flying indoors. The big detachable wheels on the sides give the Rolling Spider a bouncy barrier as it plummets to the ground or ricochets against the ceiling.

It's marketed primarily as a kid's toy. In Parrot's comically awful "official video", a kid brother terrorizes his older sister with the Rolling Spider to a grating dubstep soundtrack. The kit includes some stickers in the box to personalize it, and it's got some built-in tricks that seem made for kids, like scaling the walls and taking selfies from the air.

As much as it looks like a toy, though, it's pretty fickle for a plaything. For one, it's expensive. You can find other minicopters at half the $100 price tag that a 10-year-old can slam into the wall equally as well. Also, multicopters are generally more difficult to pilot than other RC devices because they rely so much on their sensors, and there are no spare blades or wheel shafts included in the package for when (not if) one breaks. Finally, each battery only offers about 8 minutes of flight, and the batteries require an hour and a half of charge time to fully recover. The Lithium Polymer batteries themselves are capable of a much faster recharge cycle, but because each battery can only be charged through the device itself, they're limited to a slow charge. It's surprising that there is currently no high-capacity external charger available.

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