I always thought the original Parrot AR.Drone was a really cool ‘copter. However, I couldn’t bring myself to spend almost $300 on a toy I knew my kids would step on or I might crash and ruin.
However, I might very well consider the new version – AR.Drone 2.0 – which boasts a number of sweet specs and is now available for pre-order.
The drone is still controlled using a free app that’s offered for the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. The AR is also equipped with an integrated camera that supports 720p video recording, which is likely to be relatively stable due to a three-axis gyroscope, an advanced pressure sensor and a quartet of brushless motors with micro ball bearings that produce very little noise.
The AR.Drone 2.0 also features a 1 GHz 32-bit ARM Cortex A8 processor, along with an 800 MHz video DSP. The 720p video camera has a wide-angle lens that covers 92° and shoots video at 30 frames per second. As expected, the camera snaps JPEG photos, with video that can be stored via Wi-Fi directly to the remote control device in H264 format.
The drone offers a number of predefined autopilot modes, including traveling, panning, and crane. In addition to the three-axis gyroscope, version 2.0 is loaded with a three-axis accelerometer, a three-axis magnetometer, ultrasonic sensors for ground altitude measurement and a 60 FPS vertical QVGA camera for measuring ground speed.
The AR.Drone 2.0 is constructed out of carbon fiber tubes, high-grade 30% fiber charged nylon parts, and foam to insulate components from crash damage. The device is fully repairable and uses a 1000 mAH LiPo battery that is rechargeable (note: version 2.0 is also compatible with the original AR.Drone battery pack.)
The ‘copter – which runs on Linux 2.6.32 – carries a $300 price tag.