Well-known drone-maker Parrot has been drawing quite a few onlookers to its booth at CES with two high-flying additions to its robotic lineup: the MiniDrone and the Jumping Sumo. The MiniDrone is a small quadcopter that can fly in the air and roll along the ground using detachable wheels, while the Jumping Sumo is a remote-controlled ground bot that leaps into the air using a high-powered piston.
As with most of its UAVs, Parrot has designed the hand-held MiniDrone to be easily accessible to beginners, while still packing in some impressive capabilities. Several sensors ensure the quadcopter remains stable in the air as users control it with a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth Low Energy.
It's also able to pull off loops and other tricks and even follow a few autopilot commands. One demonstration on the show floor had the small quad hovering at a fixed height and navigating back and forth between several colored squares without any input from a pilot. Additionally, the drone includes a set of wheels that can roll along a floor or ceiling and detach while moving.
The Jumping Sumo on the other hand is an agile, two-wheeled robot that's more suited for the ground, but can still get some air time on its own. When it needs to perform a jump, it tilts its body upward, retracts a back-facing piston into itself, and then fires it out again like a jackhammer, much like the Sand Flea robot.
But while the Sand Flea can clear heights of 9 m (30 ft), the Sumo is able to launch up to 80 cm (31.5) and is equipped with a gyroscope and accelerometer, which helps it to right itself once it lands and remain upright while rolling on the ground. Its two large wheels allow it to make sharp turns or even spin 360-degrees while remaining in one spot. Users guide the Sumo through a smart device with Wi-Fi 2.4 or 5 GHz connections, and can even control it from afar thanks to a built-in camera on the front that streams video in real time.
Watching the demonstrations from Parrot reps, the two bots appear easy to control, but could take some practice to pull off their more impressive maneuvers. Judging from some missed jumps and crashes we saw, at least it looks like they'll be able to survive a few accidents while users attempt to get a handle of their controls.
Parrot's MiniDrone and Jumping Sumo will be in stores later this year, but no pricing has been revealed yet. In the meantime, check out the video the company released below showing some of their new toys' capabilities.
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