Buying a drone and flying it around your local park isn’t as simple as it was a few years ago due to recent regulation, but here are five drones you can buy-and-fly instantly.
National authorities around the world are a little freaked by the rapidly-increasing number of drones, seeing them as a flying, relatively silent device that can snoop on areas of high national security or infringe on people’s privacy.
For this reason, calls for regulation were quickly acted upon by many, most noticeably here in Ireland where just before Christmas last year, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) ruled that any drone over 1kg must be registered with them.
This means a lot of paperwork to fly pretty much all of the most common and best-known drones on the market, such as the DJI Phantom 3, which comes in at around 1.3kg in weight.
But for many drone enthusiasts out there, they have no desire for a drone that could threaten national security or take stunning Hollywood-esque action shots.
So if you’re looking for a drone that you can just ‘buy-and-fly’, then check out some of these lightweight flyers.
Parrot Bebop 2 drone
Parrot’s latest Bebop 2 drone is probably the most brand-assured of the true lightweight drones.
Weighing in at 500g, the Bebop 2 does pretty much all of the things its bigger siblings do, you just have less time to do it in.
With a 2,700mAh battery, you’ll get nearly half an hour of flying time with the Bebop 2, almost double that of its predecessor, which could only manage just over 10 minutes.
In terms of performance, this little drone can reach a max vertical speed of just over 20kmph and is capable of climbing to 100m in 20 seconds.
Controlled through a smartphone app through Wi-Fi with a range as far away as 2km, you can shoot footage with its 14MP 180-degrees camera that has 3-axis video stabilisation.
It’s currently priced on Amazon at €537 if that sounds like the drone you want.
SYMA X13 Storm drone
Another drone company doing rather well for itself is SYMA, which has a whole range of different-sized drones, including the X13 Storm, which sounds rather dramatic.
This palm-sized drone weighs just 33g but comes with a six-axis control system and 360-degree eversion, allowing for acrobatic barrel rolls, as well as 3D-locking capabilities.
In terms of the air time you can get with the SYMA X13, you’ll be able to fly it for just under 10 minutes before you need to charge it again, which takes around an hour according to the company’s website.
All of its movements are controlled by a joystick that looks an awful lot like an Xbox 360 controller, which should make it an easy transition for gamers.
It only has an operating range of 50m, though, so best not stray too far from it.
This is very much a toy, however, with no camera attached or any fancy gizmos, but it would be a fun way to spend an afternoon and costs around $35 (€31).
SKEYE nano drone
If you want to own a drone even smaller, and definitely fall below the 1kg registration tipping-point, then why not check out the adorable SKEYE nano drone.
Siliconrepublic.com’s own managing editor, Elaine Burke, got to try out the tiny drone that measures less than 2in in both width and height, which makes it perfect for flying around a room, for example.
The small joystick is designed to make it relatively easy for a beginner to pick up and play around with, with no fears that it will destroy the house either.
The tiny drone will set you back €50 on the company’s website.
Walkera Runner 250 racer
Now this drone has got some serious turbo power behind its rotors and is aimed squarely at those looking to take part in the increasingly popular hobby of drone racing.
Weighing just 530g thanks to a carbon fibre structure, this drone can reach a blistering speed of 40kmph generated from its four angular motors.
Controllable from up to 1km away, the almost ironically-called Walkera Runner 250 is designed for short bursts of use with a flight time of up to 14 minutes using its 2,200mAh battery.
It comes with an internal camera to help the user watch where their drone is going, and you can also attach a GoPro for some high-octane drone-racing footage.
More importantly, it’s designed as a buy-and-fly model, so not much tinkering is needed from the get-go, but it does facilitate any tweaks you might need.
It’s on sale online in Ireland for just under €340.
Easily the strangest drone featured in this list, the Puzzlebox Orbit is more of a game than a drone, with your mental power being used to fly it, quite literally.
Its unique spherical outer shell is designed to prevent it from crashing, as the user is required to wear a neurofeedback sensor that will tell the drone to fly, or not fly.
Now, this doesn’t mean that the drone will respond to commands you issue in your head, but rather it will fly when it reads the user is thinking hard, about anything.
Another cool feature is that the code that runs the orbit is open source, which means you can tinker around with the backend to make it respond to particular commands if you want.
It won’t fly very far, or very fast, but it’s a cool tool for teaching kids about science, or drones, for example.
It’ll set you back €234 on Amazon at its current price.
Drone image via Ivan Smuk/Shutterstock