The consumer drone market has exploded in the five years since French company Parrot first introduced the $299 AR.Drone. 3D Robotics, maker of the Solo drone, has raised more than $100 million in venture capital to date, while Phantom drone maker DJI is on pace to make about $1 billion in sales this year.
But Parrot has found its niche in the market — by making drones you can actually afford.
Parrot on Tuesday announced new models of drones to their MiniDrones lineup, available in stores this fall.
Parrot’s Airborne drones are 1.2-pound flying robots that can be controlled via smartphones or tablets. A vertical camera allows users to take selfies. The drone can fly up to 11 miles per hour and can turn 180 degrees in less than a second. Different models allow customers to choose a drone with LED lights that allow it to fly during the day and night ($129), or a “Cargo” drone that allows it to carry figurines ($99). Both models have a nine-minute battery life and recharge in 25 minutes.
The Hydrofoil ($179) is perhaps the most unique in Parrot’s new lineup. It does everything the Airborne drone does, but it also comes with a hydrofoil, allowing it to skim across the water. It is the first water-oriented drone in the consumer market, according to Parrot.
“You’ve never seen a toy like this,” said Parrot Chief Marketing Officer Nicolas Halftermeyer. “It took a lot of time to design and balance, but at the same time it’s maneuverable so it won’t capsize in water.”