Parrot Shows Off Cheaper New MiniDrones, Zipping into Stores this August

Jason O. Gilbert
Technology Editor
Yahoo Tech
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Parrot’s Rolling Spider (foreground, with wheel attachments) and Jumping Sumo (on floor). 

Looking to purchase your family’s first drone? Well, the French toy drone behemoth Parrot is coming out with two cute, speedy, and relatively inexpensive options, which will be arriving soon in your airspace, floor space, and ceiling space, too. 

Parrot has officially announced August availability for its new series of minidrones, which are smaller, less expensive takes on its smartphone-controlled toys that have found some popularity in the States. Both the Jumping Sumo, a motorized car, and the Rolling Spider, a small quad-copter, were first announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January; now Parrot has revealed the prices and release dates for each. 

The Jumping Sumo, which is essentially a hopping, spinning remote-control car that you manipulate over WiFi with a Google or Apple connected device, will retail for $159. The Rolling Spider, a Bluetooth-connected flier about the size of a baseball card, will cost $99. Both will arrive in early August and will be available online or at Apple stores, Best Buy, Verizon, and Sprint. Both are operated through Parrot’s free app, available on Android and iOS devices.

While the floor-bound Jumping Sumo represents a new category for Parrot, the Rolling Spider is essentially a compact version of Parrot’s AR.Drone 2.0, and its even huger, recently announced Bebop Drone. The Rolling Spider sacrifices video capture (it can only take snapshots) and GPS navigation (you can control it only with your thumbs via a smartphone) as well as engine power and battery life. The AR.Drone 2.0 costs $300, versus $100 for the Rolling Spider; you’re making some sacrifices for the smaller bill.

I should also note that while the Rolling Spider is cheaper for Parrot, it is not necessarily cheap for a quad-copter drone, period. You can buy remote control quad-copters for under $50, but they are not operated via smartphone, and lack cameras altogether.

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The Rolling Spider will sell for $99. 

The Rolling Spider

I briefly tested both the Rolling Spider and the Jumping Sumo and found each to be a hyperkinetic joy. The Rolling Spider can do quick flips and fly up to 50 feet in the sky before losing Bluetooth connection. The drone charges via a USB connector, and the battery gets about eight minutes of flight per full charge, a Parrot spokesperson told me. 

The Rolling Spider also comes with a set of snap-on wheels, which let you control it on the floor like a remote-control car. It can also run up walls and drive on the ceiling, which is a neat trick that appeared to be a bit difficult to master.

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The Rolling Spider with wheels on. 

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The Rolling Spider with wheels off. 

The Jumping Sumo

The Jumping Sumo, meanwhile, is controlled much like a remote control car, over WiFi instead of Bluetooth. Its battery gets about 20 minutes of power from a single charge. It’s able to jump about 2.5 feet in the air, with a single propulsive launch, and it can also “kick” objects behind it with surprising force. Your cats are guaranteed to hate this toy.

The Jumping Sumo can also do a number of quick spins and make sharp right turns; you also have the option to program little routines or routes for the Sumo to run. A camera on the Jumping Sumo can stream dizzying live video to your tablet or smartphone. 

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The Jumping Sumo, which will sell for $159. 

The Jumping Sumo also has anthropomorphic eyes that glow red when you pet the thing’s back. Spooky!

Both toys are officially recommended for ages 14 and up, though a Parrot spokesperson told me that he finds it safe for 8+. We’ll have full reviews of both minidrones when they’re released in August.