Parrot has two new pint-size drones coming to Australia next month. The 'MiniDrones', as they'll be known when they're on store shelves, are smaller and simpler than the AR.Drone, as well as a fair bit cheaper, and they're available for preorder right now.
Out of the two new toys, the $139.99 Rolling Spider is easy to distinguish -- it's the flying one. Interestingly enough, it's also ground-capable, with a pair of wheels that attach to the the top centre of the Spider's chassis. It's basically a cut down, stripped back, shrunken version of the AR.Drone, losing the front video camera readout and being controlled over Bluetooth rather than Wi-Fi. The tiny Rolling Spider only weighs 55 grams -- 65g with the wheels attached -- and uses a similarly tiny 550mAh battery rated for eight minutes of flight time per hour-long charge.
The $219.99 Jumping Sumo is restricted to terra firma -- it has two large wheels that sit on the outside of a large, vaguely spherical body, but like the name suggests it can compress and fire a spring at its rear that launches it up to 80cm in the air. When it's not jumping about, it can hit a not-exactly-blazing top speed of 7km/h, drawing on its like-for-like replaceable 550mAh battery capable of 25 minutes of running time. For tighter turns, you can push the Sumo's wheels closer to its chassis, although this compromises top speed somewhat.
Although they're a little too expensive to be impulse purchases, both new Parrot minidrones are available for preorder now online. They'll be in store in Apple Stores, Harvey Norman, EB Games, Myer and other stockists come early August. [Parrot]