The 17.6-ounce device, from drone-making pioneer Parrot, soars to 330 feet in 18 seconds and travels 33 feet a second. It can fly as long as 25 minutes and sports a 14-megapixels camera with fish-eye lens in its plastic beak. The consumer-oriented drone is available Dec. 14 for $549.99 ($799.99 with controller), and works with iPhone and Android devices.
“It is an easy-to-use drone for everybody,” Parrot CEO Henri Seydoux told USA TODAY after the announcement and brief demo.
Drones have soared from a high-priced gadget to key commercial tools for industries such as agriculture and architecture. Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) expenditures are expected to top $91 billion over the next decade, says the Teal Group. The field faces stiff FAA rules that have been proposed.
Consumers increasingly are snapping up airborne drones as cameras to record vacations, neighborhoods from above and selfies, says Hugo Swart, senior director of product management at Qualcomm, whose subsidiary makes Snapdragon Flight, a chip for consumer drones and robotics apps. Technology commonly found in smartphones is now finding its way into drones, he says.
Where Bebop Drone 2 falls within the consumer space is somewhere in the midrange, say professional photographers.
“If everyone wants a Christmas toy for their kids, this is a good staring point,” says Chris Knight, an aerial photographer who has owned three Parrot drones.
During a brief demo, Seydoux launched the Bebop Drone 2 by hitting a “takeoff” button. The drone, which can fly indoors and outdoors, hovered before rising and circling a group of reporters. “If I can fly it, anybody can,” Seydoux said in an interview. “Once it takes off, it’s like playing a video game.”
Parrot’s latest comes with longer propellers for improved thrust-to-weight ratio, he says. The device is also more solidly constructed than earlier models: It can travel in winds up to 40 mph. A flight recorder, stored in cloud servers, records each flight.