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Parrot's Disco drone takes flight as a fixed-wing ultralight

Launching it is as easy as throwing a frisbee.
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The latest in Parrot's stable of drones ditches the popular quadcopter format, opting for a fixed-wing design instead. The Disco -- in keeping with Parrot's musical naming theme -- is still in the prototype stage, with pricing and release date still up in the air, but aims to provide an approachable interface for beginners and casual users. Simply give the Disco a little shake to get the motor moving, then throw it into the air, where it will automatically take flight and adopt a circular holding pattern until you're ready to take control.

Gallery: Parrot Disco fixed-wing drone hands-on | 18 Photos

Parrot's Skycontroller and FreeFlight 3 app will help you get the most out of the experience, leveraging the onboard camera -- which is the same as the BeBop line -- to record or stream video. You can even connect a set of FPV (first-person view) glasses to the app for an immersive airborne experience. The Disco also supports standard RC controllers if you want to get up to speed without all the extras. The top speed has been clocked at just under 50 MPH, with a radius of about 1.25 miles defining its range. We're told you should get 45 minutes of airtime with its rechargeable battery and juicing it up from zero should only take about one hour. The lightweight plastic body can be broken down to a more portable size by removing the wings, and if it ends up in the trees, don't worry, the parts are replaceable.

This drone is also laden with sensors (gyroscope, altimeter, magnetometer, airspeed Pitot tube and more) for gauging the environment, speed and distance from the ground, which help it stabilize flight, perform various tricks and make landing a cinch, since it can touch down automatically.

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