CES 2016 kicked off yesterday with a bang across a variety of product categories. Established drone manufacturer DJI announced a new consumer-focused 4K option that increases the availability of ultra-high resolution video to even more users. Late last night, Parrot lifted the veil on a new prototype with a modern take on a classic look.

While quadcopters have largely dominated this space for years, Parrot is using a fixed-wing look with its new DISCO prototype. The throwback design is notable but standout features like 50MPH speeds and 45 minutes of flight time are eye-popping specs. More below.

Parrot’s self-proclaimed “fascinating project” looks like something we might see scanning Jakku in the latest Star Wars film. But at the same time, the fixed wing layout is reminiscent of planes in the sky. Much like the Lilly drone that we detailed back in the spring, DISCO begins its flight by being thrown in the air. There is not a sophisticated take-off and landing regiment here. The system is designed to be piloted by amateurs and skilled users alike.

DISCO has been clocked at a top speed of 50MPH. That’s pretty quick for a drone, especially in comparison to other consumer options on the market today. DJI’s new Phantom 3 4K has a top speed of roughly 35MPH. All of this is a somewhat moot point as new government regulations state that consumer drones must remain “in eyesight at all times”. If you’re flying at top speeds you’ll want to be certain that your drone doesn’t get too far away. Parrot estimates DISCO’s range at about 1.25 miles.

Much like its competitors on the market, DISCO uses Wi-Fi to connect with Parrot’s Skycontroller or Flight Plan app. It has built-in GPS capabilities for tracking waypoints on scheduled flight plans and automatically returning to its take-off point. Parrot uses its 3-axis digital stabilization system from the Bebop line of drones. According to the press release, this inclusion is key in ensuring “soft, safe landings”. Other flight modes include Autopilot for assisted controls and a Loitering mode that plants the drone in the sky around a specific point of interest.

parrot-disco-front-view

Pilots can expect up to 45 minutes of flight time on a single battery charge. This is perhaps the most notable spec on the DISCO drone. That’s 20 minutes more than DJI’s offerings can muster up and adds a substantial amount of time in the sky. Additionally, it has a 14MP front nose camera that defers from traditional options with a forward-facing design.

Parrot has yet to announced pricing on the DISCO drone. It is slated for release “later this year”. In the meantime, be sure to take a look at DJI’s new Phantom 3 4K drone or the Standard model which is down to $679 at Amazon (Orig. $1,000).

Be sure to keep it locked to the entire 9to5 family of sites as we cover latest Apple, Google, electric vehicle and consumer technology news out of CES 2016.

CES 2016 – A new drone: Parrot DISCO prototype

Disco is a fascinating project: a fast, smart, ultra-light drone with around 45 minutes of flight time. This will be the first “ready-to-fly” wing-shaped drone, and the first everyone can easily pilot.

Just mount the wings to the body and throw it in the air. No piloting skills are required.

It’s truly a drone: it connects to the Parrot ecosystem through Wi-Fi and you pilot it with the Skycontroller or the Flight Plan app using the embedded GPS for waypoints.

Disco inherits the 3-axis digital stabilization of the Bebop drone camera. This drone takes off and lands automatically for completely renewed user experience and soft, safe landings.

Additionally, a new “Autopilot” mode mimics the flight thrills of a seasoned pilot. We are designing a totally innovative piloting system based on assisted control: the computer controls the drone and the pilot can play with the pitch without the risk of a bad maneuver or a stall.

At any time, Disco can go into “Loiter” mode and orbit around a point of interest. Compatible with immersive glasses (FPV), flying Disco will make you feel like a falcon with incredible speed and precision.

We conceived this wing with the help of senseFly engineers, the leaders in commercial fixed wing drones. As an example, the autopilot code was tested in their HQ in Lausanne, Switzerland, and benefits from years of flight experience.

Our goal is to make DISCO avaiable later this year.

Disco Prototype specs:

  • Front nose camera FullHD 1080P
  • First person view thanks to live video stream
  • Lightweight and robust design to ease maneuverability
  • Automatic take-off and landing thanks to ground sensors
  • Easy to pilot thanks to assisted flying modes
  • Flight time around 45 minutes
  • Waypoints with Flight Plan (* in-app purchase)
  • GPS return home
  • Extended Wi-Fi range with Parrot Skycontroller
  • Detachable wings for easy transport

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