Parrot, the creators of the AR Drone 2.0 has been on a tear when it comes to releasing new products. The most recent product, the Parrot Mini Drone Rolling Spider is nothing short of phenomenal and has been all the rage in the entry level consumer category. The reason being is it appeals to beginners and intermediate flyers alike.
Flying and rolling
This mini drone comes with two little wheels on the sides and four propellers that allow 360 degree flips. The wheels allow the drone to glide up surfaces be it walls or ceilings and act as collision guards when the drone is in flight. The wheels are detachable, however, should you just want to strictly fly the drone. Given its size, it is not surprising that the Rolling Spider is highly agile and easy to manoeuvre. While you could get carried away with flying it outdoors, it’s cautionary that while flying the drone too high when full throttle is turned it, it’s possible to lose connection with the remote control, as the range of the Rolling Spider is only 20m or 66ft.
In the automatic pilot mode, accelerometer and gyroscope compensates for environmental conditions so that the user can focus solely on flying. Like most other advanced drones, the Rolling Spider has been programmed to retain its altitude and position in hover mode. This means that you don’t not worry about the drone drifting away when you release the remote control. Being extremely lightweight, at a mere 55g, it is highly suitable for children and for those who prefer indoor flying, as this drone will not cause any serious injury.
The Rolling spider can be controlled using bluetooth via a smartphone app – FreeFlight 3, which even comes with a few pre-programmed acrobatic tricks. With just a few swipes, you could send the drone rolling and flipping, doing backflips and barrel rolls, which makes for an enjoyable pastime.
To demo the FreeFlight 3 App, download the app below.
It does come with a built-in camera. However, this isn’t one for photography enthusiasts. The camera image quality is quite low given the sensor can only capture 0.3MP shots. And because the camera is located on the underbelly of the drone, the camera points directly downwards, which only captures flat 2D shots . The camera was placed there for more technical reasons, such as to determine the drone’s speed by taking snapshots at regular intervals.
The single, most disappointing feature of this drone is its flight time. To fully charge the Rolling Spider, it takes between 60-90 minutes. This provides roughly a fly time for 8 minutes (6 minutes with wheels), which is quite comparable to many mini quadcopters on the market already. Of course, you may choose to purchase additional batteries for additional fun time.
One of the novel features of the Rolling Spider is that you can customize it with stickers. It’s gimmicky, but kids love it. Currently there’s only mustache, vampire teeth, and teeth grinding stickers, but there’ll probably a host of other stickers available later. The Rolling Spider also comes in three colors, white, red, and blue.
For under $100, the Rolling Spider is pretty fun and addictive, with superb controls and agility. However that said, the product can not be compared to its bigger brother, the AR drone 2.0, since it is simply in a different class. As an entry point into drones, it’s very comparable if not better than most other beginner drones in terms of flight time and use of a smartphone for controls.
While this doesn’t exactly qualify as a flying drone, Parrot also created a rolling and jumping drone called the Parrot Jumping Sumo. The Jumping Sumo can do rolls, rushes, zig-zags, circles, how its main feature is that it can jump 80cm or 31″ in the air! It has 20 minute of rolling action and can take streaming live videos that are broadcast onto your smartphone. Similar to the Rolling Spider, the Jumping Sumo can be controlled with the same Free Flight 3 App and can be customized with various stickers.