Five consumer drones that do things a little differently
While there are now a great number of consumer drones on the market, they pretty much all just fly around and take pictures. There have been a few, however, that set out to do a bit more. Here are five in particular that caught our attention over the years.
B-Unstoppable mini tank/drone combo
Operating radio-controlled off-road vehicles can be a lot of fun, but there are times when you meet up with terrain that you just can't traverse. That's why UK-based product designer Witek Mielniczek created the rather weirdly named B-Unstoppable. It could be operated both as a ground-going tracked vehicle, and as a quadcopter – its four propellers sat lined up with the the neoprene treads when not in use.
Although the vehicle's Kickstarter campaign was unsuccessful, a similar drone is now being offered by WLtoys.
Splash Drone amphibious quadcopter
Suppose that you're flying a drone over a lake or the ocean, and decide that you want to see what's below the surface. Well, if that aircraft is SwellPro's Splash Drone, you just land it on the water. The waterproof drone itself floats, with its gimbal-mounted 4K camera sitting submerged to get shots of the fishes, treasure chests or whatnot. And yes, it can take off again.
The latest version, the Splash Drone 3 Plus, sells for US$1,199 and up.
Pitta drone/actioncam combo
Many outdoorsy videographers utilize both a drone and an actioncam. Eyedea's spherical Pitta quadcopter combines the two, with a main 4K camera body that can be snapped onto either a handheld actioncam module, or a drone module that includes four motors and propellers. Oh yes, and it can also be used as a remotely-monitored security camera.
The Pitta was successfully Kickstarted, although it's unclear if it has reached production.
Parrot Minidrone Hydrofoil
Hydrofoils are pretty cool boats, so it would make sense that hobbyists would like to have a little one that they could operate by remote control. That's just what Parrot's Minidrone Hydrofoil was, although the component that contained its four vertically oriented propellers could be pulled off and flown horizontally, as a mini quadcopter.
The Parrot Minidrone Hydrofoil sold for $179, and is unfortunately no longer available. That said, Blade's Inductrix Switch RTF – which is an RC hovercraft that's powered by a pull-off quadcopter – can now be purchased for a measly $39.99
Spry aerial/underwater drone
Remember the Splash Drone? Well, if merely floating on the water isn't enough for you, then you might like SwellPro's Spry quadcopter, as it can actually descend below the surface. This is achieved by landing the drone upside-down on the water, so that its propellers proceed to pull it down briefly. It subsequently floats back up in a right-side-up orientation, so it can take off again upon surfacing. And yes, it can also just land right side-up and then float, using its 4K camera to spy into the inky depths.
Now in its Spry+ incarnation, it'll set you back $987.