The September Launch Soars the Parrot Disco Drone Into The Hands of The Consumer
By Kathleen Smith
French software engineer Henri Seydoux has successfully re - sculptured drone flying into simplicity with its 2nd September launch of the Parrot Disco. A fix wing drone unique to other fix wings due to its light weight design, super easy fly-ability, and boxed ready to fly. The design has been driven by Henri passion to create a drone that simplifies the ability to fly like a bird. An innovation that will open the door of drone flying to everyone bridging the gap between first, and experienced pilots. The drone’s flight assist modes allows those who never flown, or with limited skill the full excitement of immersive flight. For advanced flyers manual control is obtained by attaching a separate RC controller that allows piloting as if an actual pilot. A very smart drone that is a definite must have.
At the press flight test in Palm Springs California on 23rd August l got to observe, and test myself how easy this drone is to fly. I, like many others had never flown a drone yet within seconds the drone was launched by throwing it like a Frisbee to the air. The automatic take off mode flew the drone to 50 metres where it orbited in loiter mode till l was ready to take control via a second generation skycontroller.
The device mimics a game console in size, usability, and control lay out. The buttons on the controller include take off/ land, GPS return home, and two buttons for programming. The left joystick controls thrust with the right joystick controlling flight path. The controller is really simple where once taken out of loiter mode the drone was easy to manoeuvre, and can at any time be switched back to loiter. The drone comes equipped with a smart auto pilot that assists flight control, and landing. The drone is brought safely down by pressing the automatic land button whilst the drone position is straight. The button descends the drone towards the ground where sensors monitor its distance to touch down. At two metres the thrust is reduced, and the drone moves to stall mode enabling it to slide into a landing. The landing is not as easy as take off whereas insufficient landing space will require landing to be aborted by pressing the launch/land button that enables the flyer to re - position the drone for more successful touch down.
At the test site a significant amount of females had neither used a console or flown a drone, and reported the flight to be positive experience with no marked difficulties. The easy fly ability of the drone may encourage more females into flying which at present is a male dominated hobby. I am female and my pre -flight view of drones where complicated flying gadgets way to difficult to attempt to fly. The Parrot disco showed me soaring through the skies as a skilled pilot really is easier than, as its creator Henri says, riding a bicycle.
Parrot’s new drone has literally knocked down the wall of difficulty, and replaced it with simplicity. A factor making the drone accessible across generations where daughter/son to mother/father, and even grand parents can enjoy the thrill of flying. Parrot disco brings the beauty of flying to the people by using sophisticated technology as a tool to simplify the process. A simplicity that may just give the drone a commercial edge on competitive drones requiring more skills.
The only way to review a drones vulnerabilities are its crashes, and at the test site some tree crashes demonstrated the durability of the design. The, drone survived all hits including ones tumbling out of trees to the ground where on impact the wings detached. The wings engineered by leading innovators of fix wings, (senseFly), are made from expanded Polypropylene reinforced by carbon tubes with a weight of 1.5 pounds, simply click back on, and the drone is ready re-launch. The rear propeller folds in at ground contact, and was unaffected by hits including poor landings.
However, Parrot knows no drone is unbreakable, and has engineered its design to minimal parts making replaceable repair much simpler. The body of the drone consists of high capacity 2700mAh rechargeable battery that connects to a Parrots circuit box, CHUCK, (Control hub & Universal Computer Kit), which is a closed unit. The auto piloting modes in Chuck enables the drone to be tossed in the air, and give assistance to beginner pilots in flight whilst enabling safer landing. The, systems inside sensors include a gyroscope, magnetometer, barometer, accelerometer, GPS with return home function, and tube for airspeed. The nose camera is a 1080p HD with 3 – axis digital stabilization. A highly sophisticated system that consists of four replaceable parts, camera, wings, circuit box, battery, and propeller.
At interview Henri Seydoux reported no camera breakages in any of its flight tests indicating the seemingly vulnerable nose position is more protected than it looks. A statement quiet reassuring for those who have a tendency to crash into trees. However, in the world of drone flying things do break, and the cost of the camera quoted by a Parrot engineer is around 150 dollars, ( £114.21). No prices on other replacements are known at present, but Parrot will be making them available at the time of its September release date.
The Parrot disco retail price is $1,300, (£989.90), and comes with a rechargeable battery, skycontroller 2 that connects to an efficient 2.4 GHz Wi -Fi, and Parrot Cockpit glasses, (FPV), headset designed for most smart phones enabling live feed. The head set connects to the controller via, USB, with an option of way points with flight plan, (in – app purchase).
The, drones price is reflective of the sophisticated engineering implemented into this rather ingenious fix wing. The drone in forward flight can reach speeds of 50mph, (22,222 metres per a second), astoundingly fast with an impressive flight time of 45mins increasing to 60 at slower speeds. The limitations of battery life reflect how much the drones light fix wing design has increased flight time making it better option over a standard four rota .
The generous flight time will expand ones flying experience especially if equipped with two batteries. The battery is rechargeable within 60mins, and can provide a whole afternoon of continuous flying. The fix wing design are also better equipped to handle wind in comparison to quadcopters. The drone’s option of manual, and assisted piloting is a pretty smart move by Parrot. The drone is for all enabling a beginner to develop his piloting skills across time till skilled enough for manual control. The Parrot Disco is a remarkable drone, and well worth its retail price
The (FPV), googles give you exactly what the drone sees which is truly exhilarating, and gives a real sense you’re flying. The FPV also provides flight statistics as if you where in the cock pit. The nose camera can be turned in flight to capture different angles, and is brilliant for capturing great scenery. The loitering mode can be selected at any time to circle around a point of interest to give fix point views similar to a quad. I would love to soar the Parrot Disco down the Norway Fjords, and see that beauty from the eyes of a mountain bird. The Parrot Disco is a drone that will make you fall in love with flying.
The drone has been designed to make flight, and control super easy, and maybe the reason the drone comes with no sense, and avoid. However, a good wide open space is advised with a practical stretch of ground for landing. A, long open stretch also enables the flyer to soar forward enabling the fastness of the drone to be fully appreciated. A pre -set GPS defence can set the parameters to prevent the drone going too far. And, at any point you loose it in the clouds, (line of sight flying), the return home button can be pressed, and easily aborted once the drone comes visual again.
The full potential of the drone flown by an experienced flyer can be observed in Parrots pro video.