The Minidrone Rolling Spider is the latest smartphone-controlled drone from French Bluetooth specialists Parrot – and is probably the most fun it is possible to have with £90 of indoor flying toy.
A tiny 55g quadrocopter, the Rolling Spider connects to an iPhone or Android (Windows Phone coming October) allowing pilots to perform barrel rolls, backflips while flying.
The tiny drone is a smaller version of Parrot’s much larger (and heavier)AR Drone, which, at about £300, was one of the first commercially available toy drones in 2010. At £90 or less the Spider is still expensive for a toy, but very cheap for a drone.
It will take off and hover on the spot with a touch of a button, and maintain its height and balance even when pushed against. Large, flexible wheels mean it can roll along the floor or ceiling – and won’t damage anything it crashes into it.
The small drone buzzes around like a large insect and is sensitive to gusts of wind – strictly a fair weather or indoor toy – but is perfectly sized to whizz around the indoor halls of even the smallest flat.
Controlling the drone at up to 20m away is straightforward using a smartphone, with three choices of control scheme. The joystick is certainly the easiest, but tilt controls are also available. Double tap the virtual pad to initiate a mid-air backflip or barrel roll.
Crash into something and the rotors cut out instantly, which means the drone will drop out of the sky like a dead bird. Thankfully it is quite robust and the large flexible wheels are great at absorbing fairly hard impacts.
One single 90-minute battery charge only lasts for eight minutes, but additional batteries can be bought.
The drone includes a camera underneath, but it’s mainly part of the sensor system combined with an ultrasound sensor, a gyroscope, accelerometer and pressure sensor for measuring altitude. It will produce low-resolution photos, but they are shot straight down – so no shots through the neighbours’ windows.
At £90, the Rolling Spider is certainly a toy for the very biggest children (or some extremely lucky actual children), but it is extremely good fun and will entertain the family without causing too much damage. All round, a chance to experiment with a drone without breaking the bank.
Categories: Smart Drone News