coptorWithout a doubt, one of the coolest things introduced at CES 2010 was Parrot's AR.Drone quadricoptor. We managed to track it down for some hands-on time and yes, it's really as cool as it looks from the developer's videos.

One of the biggest features behind the technology is the sensors and advanced processing behind the device which allow it to practically fly itself. Unlike other remote helicoptors, the AR.Drone uses a combination of downward looking camera, gyroscopes and other sensors to perform stationary flight and also compensate for other flight conditions. The result is a very easy to fly device.

The device is currently controlled using an iPhone/iPod Touch app which communicates through Wi-Fi to the AR.Drone itself. Simply tap on Launch and the AR.Drone takes off and hovers over a stationary spot. On screen controls are easy and effective.

Left/right buttons allow you to rotate 360 degrees in one spot, while up/down buttons control altitude. Pressing on a special button activates tilt-control on the iPhone/iPod Touch itself. This allow you to fly the device by naturally tilting the iPhone itself. Meanwhile, the on screen controls are overlayed with live video coming from the front-facing camera of the Drone itself.

In picking it up for the first time, I found it very easy to maneuver. The main thing I had to get used to was using the drone's point of view to steer, rather than my own. Check out our video:

As if that wasn't enough, Parrot also offers an open API to develop augmented reality games. Using the front facing camera, you can duel with another AR.Drone or attack virtual enemies in space. Parrot has developed a couple of games as demos but expects 3rd party developers to take much more advantage of the technologies.

The current development model only offers about 15 minutes of flight on about an hour's charge. Pricing and availability of the AR.Drone will be announced later this year. More details are available on the developer site.

  • K

    I WANT!

    So very cool :)

  • AR.Drone Battles

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  • LBG

    I don't need, but I really, really want.
    Screw the recession.

  • TiredOfMiniGames

    Give us the price already.

    Is it possible to film the ground? This would be a must!

  • TiredOfMiniGames

    And I hope it can lift the EOS 5D Mark II :D

    • Jas

      Cool..... with a 100-400 IS lens on too ;-)

  • TGR

    Forget it. A forklift is the only thing that can lift that thing.

  • beetle004

    stick a hellfire missile and i am interested.......Aloow us gamers to fly a few 1000 of these over pakistan and al-qaeda and ISI would be in serios trouble!!

    • beetle004

      *serious

      • Yao MUNG

        *cereal

      • Yao MUNG

        *Syria

      • Patrick

        *Seriatim

    • Yao MUNG

      *Serena Williams

      • Narziss

        *Robbie Williams

      • musicmusicmusic

        *Robin Williams

      • geyik

        robin hood

      • Patrick

        *Little Red Riding Hood

  • Geert

    There are some compelling reasons why they should have made it so that you have to place your iphone *in* the quadricopter and control it with your laptop or another iPhone.

    * cheaper to build if iPhone's WiFi, camera etc are used
    * GPS
    * data connection via mobile provider

    I know there are some important reasons why this is not such a good idea, but still...

    • kiwii

      not possible. The iPhone adds so much more weight...

      • musicmusicmusic

        I like your thinking... but I just know I would end up showing it to my mates after a few drinks, pop inside for 2 seconds and come back to find my mobile life "has been helicoptered off by Dave - he reckons it is in (one of) your neighbours gardens. Or pool"

        Maybe I won't invite Dave...

  • HenryBaker

    I WANT..I WANT.

    I WILL PAY 200-400 TOPS.

    • Steve

      It shouldn't cost anywhere near that much. They already have these things without the camera for $50CDN. Don't give the developers any funny ideas.

  • http://www.hbdia.com Izzy Nobre

    If it's less than $500 I'll buy it.

  • tmay

    Geert,

    Weight is the problem.

    Still, an iphone could be used for an RC aircraft, or as I mentioned to a friend of mine who is into fairly large homebuilt rockets, a flight data, telemetry and stabiliy system. All you really need is a mobile cellular base station (not cheap) and were talking Houston Flight Control.

    Caveats. Sometimes the recovery system fails, and sometimes rocket motor blow up.

  • MidianGTX

    i want this soo badly wen is it coming out????

  • http://www.bitter-brew.com Chase

    Fantas -- wait, 15 min on 1 hour? I hope that increases by the time it goes on sale. Otherwise, yeah...

    That being said -- I can already imagine the terrible places ill have to go to try and get this thing down. Roof, cliffs, etc.

  • George.

    Way cool! but that is going to be SO expensive!!!!!
    The Dragon fly one is about $2500!
    This is the one single thing that has made me miss my iphone lol.

  • Dave

    Wait til the cops get it , we'll be in the tish then

  • sk8erdude50

    i am really wondering how much this will be because i really want it, is there a chance that it will be around 60 dollars? I know but i just dont see them selling stuff like this for $1000

    • http://www.hbdia.com Izzy Nobre

      Ahahahahaha 60 dollars?

      Try adding a zero to that, and you're closer to the probable cost.

  • http://www.runningwithscissorsgame.com Chris

    lol with this crowd, they'd be complaining if it was over $2.99 :P

    okay maybe that's a bit extreme, but I've been reading the posts about the various controllers that potential devs have put out to the ipod touch gaming community & price was a major factor..

    would anyone buy this for $299?

  • http://www.runningwithscissorsgame.com Chris

    (if it was the "deluxe" version w/ all the different shells and such)

  • kiwii

    I'd get it in 50$ Price range.
    But we all know it will be more than that plus the app.

  • TimothyB

    This product might do well considering they could also package it with PC/MAC software to control it from a desktop, laptop, netbook, tablets, and find a place along side similar toys. But if you have an iPhone, even better.

  • Ricardo Dawkins

    Cnet reports a price of $500 + the iphone/ipod and the application for the toy
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-19882_3-10429248-250.html

    Cool toy but way to expensive.

    • kiwii

      Correction, Under 500.

  • borg queen x

    200 dollars. not more. then this thing is mine :D

  • borg queen x

    also, the thing is bound to wifi. that sucks ALOT. because this will mean we cant use it for more then about 20meters distance.
    normal RC heli's can fly 100meters more.

  • omnithrope

    Nifty, but there's no way I'd pay more than $150 for something like this.

    $500? $600? I could afford that pretty easily, but there's no way I'd shell out that kind of money for a RC toy with a camera.

    I mean, honestly... how often would you use this?

  • PromisedPlanet

    Yeah, I've got to agree, 15 minutes flight time on an hour's charge is a Deal Breaker (thanks Liz Lemon) for me.

    Unless the battery can be swapped with a spare which can be charged externally?

    I'd also like to know what kind of height I could expect to achieve with this thing. ;-)

  • Michael

    Well the app will probably be free for promotion reasons, considering you need to buy the copter thingy with it. Why would you let so many people not see this thing by making the app $10? Or even $0.99? They could even put some videos of the copter in the app for people that are just browsing and don't know what it is.

  • Lukeb

    I'd rather control a virtual, jet-powered car onscreen through fantastically conceived scenarios than try making that glorified air hockey puck hover a bit and startle grandma before retiring it to ebay or storage.

  • sk8erdude50

    well, guess I wont be owning this as the price seems way to extreme for me, oh well

  • Googlyhead

    I can see it being worth the $500 asking price: Decent standard helis start at a couple hundred; all the servos and gyros tend to be quite expensive, even before taking into account the custom electronics and cameras.
    I agree it's a little hard to justify if it's a 10 minute toy. Ideally; yes, a little cheaper, a little longer runtime or a different power option...

  • MaroonFree

    Yes.

  • Sn7ke

    I'm dreaming that this thing will get the newspaper for me. So I dont have to get out of bed! Oh yeah....

  • http://acceleroto.com Bryan Duke

    The Drone was very cool to see flying around in their cage at CES. It looked like a fun, dead-simple to learn r/c-type toy...err...drone.

  • Ginger Yellow

    "Decent standard helis start at a couple hundred; all the servos and gyros tend to be quite expensive, even before taking into account the custom electronics and cameras."

    Yeah, but perfectly serviceable indoor helis start at $30. And I don\'t see this getting much outdoor use given the WiFi control system.

  • sk8erdude50

    wow i really wanted to get this, maybe if it is less than a hundred i will see it wrapped in a box for my birthday if I ask him a lot :)

  • Narziss

    If they were kind and mass produced these...
    ...I could see them selling for $120.

    And they would sell a ton.

    But it will probably be about $300.

  • Viktor Zimmerman

    When is it going on sale?

  • http://uaedirectoryindex.com/Show_results_catagory2_tourism.php?jid=Tourism Doreen Trillas

    Please, can you PM me and tell me few more thinks about this, I am really fan of your Blog ...

  • John
  • Scott F

    This is the dumbest piece of crap i've ever seen.

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  • Scottio Wilson

    Very cool.