New Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 coming soon to The Source, we go hands-on (Video)

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April 21, 2012 1:11 pm


A couple of weeks ago, Parrot came to Toronto to showcase two of their latest products: the 2.0 version of their very cool AR.Drone smartphone- and tablet-controlled quadrocopter, and their new Philippe Starck-designed Zik Bluetooth headphones. In the video after the jump, I got the chance to talk to Peter George, Parrot’s VP of Sales & Marketing, about the AR.Drone 2.0, and all its new features.

The first AR.Drone was launched in 2010, and is unique when compared to other radio-controlled ‘copters, in that it is controlled by your iOS or Android device. It had two cameras, which could be viewed on your phone or tablets screen. The ability of the software to detect objects with the front-facing VGA camera allows the AR.Drone to be used for augmented reality games (hence the AR in its name). While all these features made ver. 1.0 of the AR.Drone a great toy that also has many uses beyond fun in research and education, there is always room for improvement. The AR.Drone 2.0 addresses many of its predecessor’s shortcomings. 

The AR.Drone 2.0 now has a front-facing 720p camera, which improves the view in-flight, especially on the larger screens of tablets, and allows you (with the updated AR.FreeFlight 2.0 piloting app) to record the HD video so you can upload it to YouTube. The hardware onboard the drone has also been updated, with a new pressure sensor and 3D magnetometer that improves outdoor flight, allowing you to pilot the AR.Drone to higher altitudes. The 3D magnetometer also allows for a new flight-mode, called ‘Absolute Flight’:

With a 3D magnetometer, the AR.Drone 2.0 knows its precise orientation with respect to the smartphone, which becomes the reference point. The pilot no longer needs to care about the orientation of the AR.Drone 2.0′s front camera, which will accurately track the smartphone’s motion and tilt.

I tried this new flight-mode myself, and, as a beginner, I found it much easier than the conventional ‘Relative Flight’-mode, but even then, the AR.Drone is hypersensitive to your movements, so it will take some practice. The augmented reality aspect of the AR.Drone is one of it coolest features, and while I didn’t get a chance to try out any of the available games, they certainly look interesting and add another dimension to using the drone beyond just flying. More info on the different AR.Drone games is available on Parrot’s website, but to give you an idea of what you can do here is one of the descriptions, and a screenshot:

AR.Rescue is a first-person view (FPV) piloting game in Augmented Reality. It is played solo using an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. Place your special AR.Drone target on the ground and the game starts. Help the aliens to return to their planet on board their rocket. Recover the pieces of rocket scattered in the atmosphere, get rid of the nasty Crunchers and try to beat the clock on every mission.

Parrot has also wisely realized that if they want this aspect of the AR.Drone to really take off, they need third-party developers to make apps for them, too. To facilitate this, Parrot is providing developers an ‘Open Game API’, part of their Open Development Platformdevelopers can sign up at Ardrone.org and download the SDK for free. There are already quite a few third-party apps on both iOS and Android, however,  there are more for iOS at the moment since the AR.Drone only started support Android recently, and none of the Parrot-developed games are available on Android as of yet.

Hopefully we’ll get one to play with a unit soon, so check back for a full review.

The AR.Drone 2.0 ships with two hulls, the indoor one protecting the blades from damaging impacts. It will be available in Canada exclusively from The Source starting May 1st for $329.99, and the first 500 pre-orders will get a free carrying case.

You can read more about the AR.Drone 2.0 on Parrot’s site.

Pre-order the AR.Drone 2.0 at The Source for $329.99, either in-store or at www.thesource.ca.

 

You can check out some additional images of the AR.Drone 2.0 below, and a video clip of one of the AR games in action:


AR.Drone 2.0 Indoor
AR.Drone 2.0 outdoor configuration
AR.Drone 2.0 outdoor
AR.Drone 2.0 detail
AR.Drone 2.0 Battery
  • pats

    cool

  • zed

    yeah, I don’t think I’d fly it that close to the water level…

  • marc

    can this drone fly outside or only inside

    • BigC_13

      Well let’s see it ships with two hulls, one being an indoor hull… and has video of it being flown outside…… must be indoor only

  • Aiden

    $329? But it looks like its made of foam.

    • Thai

      Foam is strong and lightweight. Very common for many RC airplanes to be made of foam and still be in that price range. Personally I won’t buy this, I just don’t trust controlling it via wifi. Would rather be able to control via a traditional RC Transmitter.

  • Alex Davies

    Without the Wi-Fi and mobile device integration you wouldn’t be able to play the AR games though, which is what really sets the AR.Drone apart from other ‘copters

  • Tom

    This looks great and I think I will get one.

    “To facilitate this, the AR.Drone game API is open-sourced, and part of their Open Development Platform”

    Sorry to be picky, but code can be ‘open-sourced’ but API’s can’t. I think you should write that they have made an API available so developers can create 3rd party apps.

    I guess that would make it an ‘open’ ecosystem, but that’s the only way it is open.

    • Alex Davies

      I changed the wording a bit – thanks for pointing this out

  • wewewi

    Games are only for iOS? WTF?

  • HotDoggable

    looks like fun but I recommend a hobby grade multi rotor. They are light years better than this toys. That’s if you have the time,money and the know how. DJI Naza is a great hobby grade machine

  • Dandroid

    welcome new guy.

  • Steve Dion

    Why only at The Source. I think they only sell overpriced crap.

  • clmlo

    My question are, when I fly outside… what happen to the Drone when it is out of WiFi range of your iPhone or Android Phone??? I read up on the AR Drone Forum; number of user reported at less to the old AR Drone…. the craft have a FLYAWAY problem! Some reported that it will fly straight up and disappear into the sky! I aren’t wanted to pay $320 to see it goes up in the air and disappear…..

  • clmlo

    For more info on this flyaway problem… Google AR Drone Flyaway. There are couple of YouTube Video as well… I will hold off for couple of months and see what happen before I throw $320 + Tax away…

  • Jason

    this posting is in response to the “Thai” posting. The AR Drone “CAN” be operated via a traditional RC type controller. Check out http://www.macdrones.com
    another great website that showcases the versatility of the AR Drone and using the non traditional setup of having to use a smartphone or a tablet is http://www.etfett.net

  • Jason

    also by using a RC type controller the flight range would be about 800 feet as opposed to only 165 feet going the smartphone/tablet wifi route.

  • Dalimar

    This model comes with a setting to set a ceiling – if you set 50 feet as example it can only travel 50 feet. Also, if it loses wi-fi it is programmed to land.

  • zeke

    I would u choose me ,I want something that is original ,come on ,I wanted that thing badly

  • zeke

    I would u choose me ,I want something that is original ,