There are a few things in life that simply bring out the child in all of us. Having grown up with remote controlled cars that you had to follow behind because of the three foot cord to between the car and the controller, a flying radio controlled device is one thing that instantly turns me into a child again. The Parrot AR.Drone Wi-Fi quadricopter is the kind of toy my generation could only dream about. Everything a kid (or the kid inside anyone) could expect from a toy is built into this marvelous contraption; first and foremost it flies, it is controlled via Wi-Fi with an iPhone/iPod/iPad, it stabilizes itself with gyroscopes and an altimeter, it has an on-board computer, and it has two cameras built into it. You would be hard-pressed to find a toy with more simultaneous fun all in one. The AR.Drone is an exceptional example of applied engineering and technological innovation, with a trendy twist; its controlled by devices most people have and use daily. It flies and it is controlled by a smartphone. This is a device that no Gen-X member could pass up.
How does it work?
Once you install the application on your mobile device you connect to it just like you would any Wi-Fi connection and it is ready to fly. the application has two flight-control options. “In the beginner mode, users hold the left onscreen button to maneuver the Drone with the iPhone’s accelerometer–tilt it left and the Drone glides to the left, forward to move it forward, and so on. The right side onscreen button is a virtual joystick that increases and decreases the altitude, and also rotates the Drone. The advanced mode uses a single onscreen virtual joystick to control the Drone. Another major feature is the use of several AR.Drone on a network. Thanks to its own generated Wi-Fi network, players can create a game party where others players can join and play against each other. named AR.PURSUIT, makes it possible to have a battle between two AR.Drone. Hulls are available in three different colors to easily identify your AR.Drone.” (ardrone.parrot.com)
The video streamed to the iPhone cannot be recorded, since Apple has not authorized this function.
The photo function has not been implemented in the AR.Free-flight application. You can still take a screen-shot by simultaneously pressing the iPhone’s on/off and “home” buttons.
The AR.Drone can reach a top speed of 18 km/h / 11 miles/hr. You can adjust a setting in the application to reduce/increase the AR.Drone’s tilt angle and therefore reduce/increase the speed.
Thanks to its many sensors, the AR.Drone can maintain stable flight at a height of up to 6 meters / 20 feet. Since the altitude at which the AR.Drone can fly depends exclusively on the Wi-Fi range, it can fly up to a height of 50 meters / 160 feet.
The “Altitude limited” option in the AR.Drone’s settings can be adjusted to restrict the height to 3 meters / 10 feet.
- Dimensions: 28 x 28 inches with hull; 29 x 11 inches without, 13.4 ounces
- Range- 50 meters / 160 feet
- Fly time: 12 minutes
- 3-cell lithium polymer battery
- Capacity: 1000 mAh
- Charge time: 90 minutes
- Motors: 4 x 15W electric brushless motors (3,500 rpm)
- Front camera:
- VGA (640 x 480) CMOS camera
- 93-degree wide-angle lens
- 15 fps video
- Vertical camera:
- QCIF (176 x 144) High-speed camera (CMOS)
- 64-degree diagonal lens
- 60 fps video
- Horizontal stabilization
- Emission frequency: 40 kHz
- Vertical stabilization
- Internal guidance system:
- MEMS (micro electro mechanical system)
- 3-axis accelerometer
- 2-axis gyroscope
- 1-axis yaw precision gyroscope
- Embedded computer:
- ARM9 RISC 32-bit 468MHz
- 128MB DDR RAM
- Wi-Fi b/g
- Linux OS
- USB socket
- Cost: $300 on Amazon