Since the early 2000s, radio controlled toys have become smaller and cheaper thanks to advanced electronics and manufacturing techniques. No other category has been developed as much as the flying toys known as Quadcopters or Drones.
These marvels of miniature engineering have a motorised rotor blade on each of the four corners with a helicopter type body in the centre that houses the batteries and electronic control systems. Model kit company Revell was one of the first toy suppliers to introduce a range of drones under their Estes Control brand.
The lifting power of these machines is quite extraordinary with their ability to carry sophisticated digital movie cameras to record everything on the ground beneath them in high definition detail. These recordings can be stored in an on-board memory chip or even transmitted to the ground utilising apps that are available for smart devices such as iPhones or tablets. A standard multi-channel radio controlled unit can be used to control some of the lower priced varieties.
Also known as quadrotor helicopters or just quadrotors, these models are made by many different manufacturers and can generally be classed as toys or even big boys playthings owing to the price of some versions with innovative features. Flying time for these drones can be as long as thirty minutes thanks to advanced lithium polymer (LiPo) batteries that are used on most of the more expensive models.
One of the first companies to make and sell drones was DJI. Their series of Phantom models have been improved and refined with additions like robotic camera tilt mountings, live video streams and automatic home navigation if the model goes out of range. Other makers include Hubsan, Syma and Parrot with their AR Drone variations which are distributed by Flying Toys in the UK.
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