Parrot’s AR Drone Shows Off Its Skills in New York City (video)

Parrot AR Drone hits NYC
Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…. a really sweet flying robot! Nice.

There are dozens of cool accessories you can buy for your iPhone, but a flying robot spy with augmented reality has to be at the top of the list. Parrot’s AR Drone is a $300 quadrotor that you can control with your iPad, iPod, or iPhone. It comes equipped with two cameras (one facing forward, the other down) that send their video straight to the mobile device in your hands. Fire up one of its augmented reality apps, and the AR Drone will alter that camera feed so you can see superimposed digital graphics – your flying robot is now a real world video game. Recently, Parrot took their ultimate iPhone accessory to New York City and let the drone duck and weave through the concrete jungle. Check out that video below followed by two more great new looks at the device. Blending robotics with video games and mobile phones…AR Drone pushes all the right buttons in my technophilic heart.

…and a great look at what you see on the screen while flying the AR Drone. (This is the best footage of the AR Drone on an iPad I’ve seen).

Oh, and in case you were wondering what those AR video games looked like, here’s a newer commercial for the player vs. player dueling application.

Parrot’s been showing off the AR Drone for over a year now. Even just the few minutes I had to play with it at CES 2010 was more than enough to convince me that it was a damn nifty little flying robot. For a while I thought its 50 meter flying range, $300 price tag and iPhone synergy would be enough to make it the platform to bring AR and robotic gaming to the mainstream. It still could, especially if Parrot continues to make cool videos like one above. Supposedly there are several thousand more clips like this on YouTube, only shot by users, not Parrot itself. That’s a pretty good sign that it has some staying power in the market. Still, a battery life of only 12 minutes is a severe limitation (takes 1.5 hours to recharge and extra batteries cost around $30), one that is fairly common among flying drones, and that make using these devices for anything beyond a quick demonstration fairly impractical. For now at least. Hopefully battery life will improve, Parrot will add a few more games to its roster, and someone somewhere will buy me an AR Drone. It’s still the coolest toy out there.

[image and video credits: Parrots/AR]
[source: Parrot/AR Drone]