Almost a year ago, the Japanese Ministry of Defense made quite a splash when it revealed a spherical, remote-controlled aircraft that could zip around a room, roll along the ground, and even bounce off obstacles without losing control. But while it was mainly designed for search and rescue operations, many R/C enthusiasts took one look at that hovering orb and said, "I have got to get me one of those." Luckily, toy company Kyosho must have been listening, since it recently released a similar flying machine of its own for consumers. Kyosho's "Space Ball" can remain airborne while taking just as much punishment and even emits a fragrance to freshen up a room in the process.
It's not nearly as state-of-the-art as the version from the JMD, but the Space Ball (or Kyosho Egg) can still zip around the room like a sentient dodge ball. The central tail rotor gives it a full 360 degrees of movement, while the 20 cm (7.9 inch) shock-absorbing frame lets it bounce off furniture and walls without spinning away wildly. Aside from protecting the rotors and electronics, the frame also helps the Space Ball right itself on the ground. Most of the aircraft's weight is on the bottom, so the whole thing naturally rolls until it rests upright on the flat bottom.
A rechargeable lithium polymer battery powers the motor, but the three channel infrared controller requires six AA batteries. The Space Ball gets about 5 minutes of flight time on a 50 minute charge and it also has a bright LED light on the front, so users can know which way the aircraft if facing.
The most surprising feature of the Space Ball, however, is the optional absorbent sheets, which can be soaked in fragrant oils to spread an aroma around the room. Seems like a lot of trouble for an air freshener, but it could be fun to essentially crop dust your house.
Kyosho is currently offering the Space Ball in black and orange color schemes through Japanese retailers for ¥6,279 (US$78), which includes four replacements for the main rotors and two for the tail. Anyone outside Japan though can pick one up through Japan Trend Shop for US$117, plus shipping.
Check out the video below to see how the Space Ball can go from rolling around the floor to weaving through the air in seconds.