French dronemaker Parrot’s latest creation turns a flying machine into an engine for a boat. The boat-drone hybrid is called a hydrofoil- a boat already designed to lift most of its body from the water and travel instead through the air, just skimming the surface of the sea.
By attaching the drone perpendicular to the body of the boat, the gadget send its thrust rearward instead of down, causing the boat to move forward and rise up on its little pontoons. With a simple command from a smartphone app, a lever tilts up the deck-mounted Flying Spider miniature quadcopter to a 90 degree angle. The app also handles the switch from the control model used to fly the plane through the air in three dimensions to the two-dimensional mode used to control the Hydrofoil. The drone has widened wheels and can reach almost 13 kilometers per hour and jump over 75 centimeters through the air. Parrot did not create a dedicated hydrofoil design: instead the hull is equipped with a cradle into which a flying minidrone can be fitted (the minidrone can be flown completely independently). Four rotor blades attached to the hull provide thrust to make it airborne. The drones will have built-in video cameras that record at 60 frames per second and can reach distances of up to 60ft (18 meters).
Parrot says their hydrofoil will retail for $179, and comes with both the Flying Spider drone and extra hydrofoil body. Power is supplied by a 550 mAh lithium polymer battery. A 25 minute charge will give it enough power to sail for 7 minutes and 6 mph. These new machines are going to be available in Europe in July, but the U.S, may have to wait a bit longer.