French Bluetooth company turned drone-maker Parrot has some new hardware for CES 2014, including two brand new smartphone-controlled bots. One is the rolling, jumping Sumo and the other is the MiniDrone, a super small version of its popular AR Drone that flies, rolls and hugs the ceiling and the walls.
The MiniDrone is remarkably small, coming in at about a tenth of the size of the full version, which makes it incredibly portable. You could actually slip one in your pocket without much issue if you really wanted to. To get that size advantage, it ditches the camera, but it adds to removable, large wheels that allow it to roll around the ground – or go acrobatic and run along the wall or the ceiling, too.
The Sumo is a two-wheeled ground-only unit that does have a camera, just like the big AR Drone, and has a foot built in that allows it to stop pretty much instantly, and to leap up in the air up to 80cm. It’s a bit more rugged in keeping with its rough-and-tumble lifestyle, too, and reminds me a bit of the Sphero 2B that company just unveiled.
There’s no firm ship date for either the MiniDrone or the Sumo, but they’re coming “soon” according to CEO Henri Seydoux, for a price that’s yet to be finalized. I asked Seydoux how these two designs came to be, and whether they were the result of user requests and feedback, and he said that in fact Parrot dreamt them up because “we like to have fun.”