Parrot has been in the gadget industry for quite some time, but it was not until the launch of the AR.Drone quadro-copter that it caught our eye. The AR.Drone has been on the loose for some time now, and the device’s firmware has just been updated so that it works with Android devices as well as Apple products. The AR.Drone features two onboard cameras which makes it quite the spy-toy. Controlling the craft is done through your Wi-Fi capable Android or i-devices.
Unlike a remote controlled helicopter the AR.Drone is a more stable craft and it has some semi-autonomous features. The Drone starts, hovers, and lands by the push of a button thanks to a bottom mounted camera and an ultrasonic altimeter setup. The on-board system is powered by a ARM9 CPU that has access to 128 MB of RAM, since the system runs Linux anything is possible.
All of these relatively advanced things do come at a somewhat hefty price of $299, where small gyro-copters usually sell for around $100. On the up side the spare parts are quite inexpensive. Since everything that goes up must come down expect to buy some spare parts during the lifetime of the devices.
The Parrot ships with two three cell Li-Po battery packs and a balanced charger. This gives you about 20 minutes or so of flying time depending on how hard you are pushing it.
Parrot makes a basic flight control application for both i-devices and Android systems. There are alternatives out there that give you more options regarding the control of the drone. If you are interested, Parrot has an SDK that allows you to create your own control software. There are a bunch of official Parrot AR.Drone games available as well if you feel like taking on someone else’s drone in a real dog-fight.
- 468 MHz on-board ARM9 CPU
- 128 MB RAM
- 640x480 pixels VGA Front facing camera (93 FOV)
- 6 DOF Sensor system
- Ultrasonic height measurement system
- Linux operating system
- Published SDK
- Augmented reality games available
The Parrot AR.Drone ships in a huge cardboard box filled with goodies.
Parrot ships two three cell Li-Po batteries which each drone which provides about 20 minutes of flying time. Lithium-Polymer batteries provide the best capacity to weight ratio so they are a no brainer for the Parrot AR.Drone. Enthusiastd will probably want their own Li-Po balanced charger and more hefty three cell packs.
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