Parrot AR.Drone – technology at its best

24 02 2011

 Overall rating: 9/10

This weekend I tested the Parrot AR.Drone, an iPhone controlled Wi-Fi quadricopter. This product has to be the coolest remote controlled device (you can’t really call it a toy) that I have ever seen.

The AR.Drone stands for Augmented Reality Drone. The idea was that you can download an app for your iPhone and play against a virtual enemy in your surroundings. However, the product has turned out to be so awesome by itself that the extras have almost been forgotten.

The Drone has a camera mounted on the front and on the bottom for a bird’s eye view. This video is streamed back to the Free Flight App via the drone’s own wireless network to display a real time video feed. The bottom mounted camera is also used to determine the speed of the drone and it also tracks objects on the ground to enable static flight.

The Drone has an ultrasonic altimeter to allow it to remain at a constant altitude, and also to change altitude regarding the height of terrain. This is especially useful so you don’t run into the side of the mountain.

The Drone includes four brushed (or brushless) motors, two cameras, an ultrasonic altimeter, a three-axis accelerometer, a two axis gyroscope and an extremely accurate yaw axis gyroscope. It runs a modified OS of Linux on a 433MHz processor.

Typical flight time is around 15 minutes of aggressive flying. This means tight banked corners, going extremely fast (around 18km/h) and flying at high altitude. This is commendable, since other helicopters without all this kit have a typical flight time of about 10 minutes per charge. Also keep in mind that the Drone has four rotors and not the traditional two.

In conclusion this is a really cool remote control device. The only thing that I would mark as a downside would be the price, which is quite steep at $380. Other than that though, I would recommend one to anyone who is a remote control enthusiast – like me.

Joshua

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