We’ve all dreamed of flying through the air, of being as free as a bird. And now the popular drone makers at Parrot are making that a reality (without a squirrel suit and a death wish).
The company's new Parrot Disco—due out later this year for an undisclosed price—uses a 16-megapixel camera to give you a first person view of the drone’s flight path. Coupled with an optional pair of virtual reality goggles, you can pilot the Disco like a bird, wafting across wind currents for 45 minutes on a single charge.
The experience must feel extraordinary, but it’s only possible because of Parrot’s sophisticated, and relatively mindless, drone UI. It's actually the first drone Parrot claims that "anyone can pilot easily." Disco features a complete autopilot mode, if you’d prefer to spectate, as well as an assisted mode, which lets you steer without worrying about pushing the vehicle past its limits and stalling out of the sky. Then at if any point you discover a landmark that you’d like to stare at for a while, a "loiter" mode circles it automatically while you appreciate the view. And when you’re done flying, a one-button return pilots your drone back to your GPS coordinates where it lands softly.
It’s the sort of half-automated adventure experience being promised in the next generation of self-driving automobiles, playing out in the current state of drones today. No doubt, this half-automation will make us all worse pilots and drivers as we’re never forced to develop the skills to properly control our vehicles. (Google's car is actually fully autonomous because the company's research has found drivers aren't as attentive when they think a robot can step in and help.) But as a trade, we’ll get a hell of a view.