WSJ: Paper Planes Transform Into Tiny Drones

Here come da drone… The FAA is in big trouble when paper airplanes take to the skies…

WSJ:  Current court cases are wading into debates over whether a powered paper plane could legally be a real aircraft. Now there is a new but familiar shape to the fast-growing world of unmanned aircraft: the paper airplane.

The PowerUp 3.0, brainchild of former Israeli Air Force pilot Shai Goitein, is a lightweight guidance-and-propulsion system powered by a dime-size battery. It clips onto origami aircraft and connects to iPhones using Bluetooth, transforming them into remote-control drones.

Pocket-size drones like the PowerUp aren’t as sophisticated as the devices Jeff Bezossays could one day deliver packages for Amazon.com, or the big solar-powered models being engineered by companies that Google and Facebook recently acquired.

But enthusiasts are embracing these minidrones as a cheap, souped-up way to get high.

In less than a year, Estes-Cox Corp., a Colorado maker of model rockets, has sold more than 500,000 versions of its remote-controlled nanodrone, which is 1.8 inches square and retails for $40. French company Parrot SA, PARRO.FR -0.84% one of the largest drone makers, is launching a minidrone with detachable wheels that allow it to land and immediately start driving—even up walls.

Harvard University researchers have developed a still tinier drone, the RoboBee, which has insectlike wings that span the diameter of a half dollar. The whole machine weighs less than a third of a penny.

The researchers say the potential uses of tiny drones range from pollinating crops to military surveillance to traffic monitoring.

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