Gather up any presents you may have received this winter, return them to the store, and take the cash. The ultimate gadget has just arrived. Parrot, a French company better known for making sleek Bluetooth accessories, has released videos of its latest product: a four-prop quadricopter with video cameras that you control with your iPhone. This isn’t some dinky mall-bought plaything, the AR-Drone from Parrot has amazing controls, great vertical movement capabilities, and it relays video straight to your phone via WiFi. It’s a retail spy-drone. And it plays augmented reality video games. That’s right, you can play AR video games using the drone’s camera while it’s in flight. I am totally floored. Check out the flight video, and the AR game video after the break.
The AR-Drone is amazingly similar to the military drone controlled by an iPhone at MIT. The MIT drone has slightly better programming (it can run patrols or surveillance sweeps) but otherwise the two seem nearly identical. That’s incredible. Parrot is selling a near-military quality drone. There are so many ways, mostly legal, that AR-Drone could be used. Surely the majority of people will want a cool RC helicopter that plays AR games. But I can bet that militias, civilian border patrols, and other para-military groups are going to want to get their hands on this as well. Easy to control but high quality retail drones like this one could change the way we view household robots – they’re not just for play anymore.
The controls for the AR-Drone are fairly simple, relying on tilting the phone, or touching the screen to control rotation, tilt, and acceleration. An earlier video of a protoype AR-Drone demonstrates this a little better in the following:
Parrot has setup a YouTube channel to carry all the important info about the AR-Drone. You can watch more videos of the bots as they get tested for the first time, calibrate their vertical camera, and run their batteries in the snow. This thing is just so freakin’ cool. Evidently everyone seems to think so as Parrot’s website is over capacity for traffic. We’ll keep you up to date as pricing and availability become known. Anyone who gets their hands on one of these things should let us know…and then send me their AR-Drone. Please.
[photo and video credits: Parrot]