This Drone Doubles as a Boat’s Sail (Video)

By Jonathan Zhou
Jonathan Zhou
Jonathan Zhou
Jonathan Zhou is a tech reporter who has written about drones, artificial intelligence, and space exploration.
June 12, 2015 Updated: June 12, 2015

Is there anything drones can’t do?

From serving as a platform for racing through the forest, taking romantic photos of wedding proposals, or making sure you never have to leave the house ever again, it feels like the applications of these winged gadgets are positively endless.

Recently the Department of Defense held a decathlon of sorts for robots, who had to perform a mock-rescue mission that involved driving a car, opening doors and valves, and cutting a hole through the wall, all for the sake of the $2 million dollar grand prize.

As the capabilities of drones evolve and expand, it’s not out of the question that a similar competition—one that involves a race across the land, the air, and the sea—could be organized for drones, whose functions look more flexible everyday.

Parrot has recently revamped its miniature quadcopter, the Rolling Spider, to make it compatible as a sail engine for hydrofoils. The company released a video on Friday of their bite-size seaplane gliding across the surface of a large pool.

Unlike actual seaplanes, the Spider doesn’t yet have the ability to take off in flight with the boat portion attached, but it’s only a matter of time before a drone with that ability is made. After all, design concepts of a drone that can lift humans, so as to provide an airborne taxi service, already exist.

It’s likely that we’re on the cusp of a giant explosion in drone innovation, which has been stymied in the United States by a stagnant regulatory regime that still outlaws any form of commercial drone activity.

Jonathan Zhou is a tech reporter who has written about drones, artificial intelligence, and space exploration.