Things have moved on quite a bit since the days when Scalextric and Tamiya were the pinnacle of remotely-piloted vehicles.
Drones are taking off in a big way – and if you want your own robotic minion, these ones will go up in the air or down beneath the waves. They can even film their exploits along the way.
Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Quadricopter (£250)
Parrot’s second-generation quadcopter is easily controlled via smartphone or iPad, can do flips, and packs a 720p HD video camera, allowing you to play insanely fun augmented reality games — or just snoop on the neighbours. Don’t really do that.
Lehmann LA100 GoPro Drone (€990)
Designed to carry a GoPro camera, this fixed-wing drone flies completely independently once launched. Constructed from foam and carbon fibre, it’ll fly at altitudes of up to 100m, acquiring video and images for five minutes before it lands.
DJI Phantom (£500)
This quadcopter packs a powerful on-board GPS system, accurate to within less than 1m.
It can hover in a single spot indefinitely, which is great for movie makers, and has a setting that allows you to control it as if you’re always standing behind it.
Walkera Dragonfly QR Infra X (US$85)
Dirt cheap and small enough to fit in your palm, the Walkera Dragonfly is equipped with 10 collision sensors which make it impossible to crash. Two ultrasonic altitude sensors even let it climb stairs step-by-step, adjusting its height as it goes.
Not all drones take to the sky: Ziphius is set to be the first waterborne consumer drone. An hour of battery life will let you explore the sea at 6mph, shooting 720p video both above and below water level. And don’t worry: it can never capsize.