CES 2012: AR.Drone 2.0

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At CES Las Vegas 2012, Parrot, the creators of everyones favourite augmented reality quadricopter have just unveiled their new hotness in the AR.Drone 2.0. For the uninitiated, the AR.Drone is a quadricopter controlled by Wi-Fi using a smartphone or a tablet. Also, it’s from the future. With the brand new 2.0 hot off the presses, Parrot has added in an HD camera, video recording, flight data sharing, a new piloting mode, increased stability and a brand-spankin’ new look. Check out the official release below.

While in flight, the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0‘s front camera transmits, in live, what the quadricopter sees onto the pilot device’s screen.
For the first time, with a resolution of 1280×720, it shows a view from the sky in High Definition, with smooth and unbelievably clear images.
The pilot enjoys an experience like never before, as if he was on board. For gaming purposes, this camera can also recognise specific shapes and colors to show augmented-reality elements on the smartphone’s screen.

Thanks to the new AR.FreeFlight 2.0 piloting application, players can record their own HD videos and watch them or share them with the AR.Drone community.
Additionally, with the “travelling” feature, the pilot can film HD video sequences like a professional! Simply select the direction of travel (forward, back, sideways) and the duration, and the AR.Drone 2.0 does the rest.

Besides flying the AR.Drone, the new application AR.FreeFlight 2.0 – available to download for free from the AppStoreSM and AndroidTM Market- offers players a new interface and many options.

  • FreeFlight: Access to the piloting application. The player can record flights, take HD videos or photos, and save them in his piloting device. All the flight data (altitude, speed,                         duration and place) can be saved, checked by the pilot and shared with the community.
  • Guest Space: Access an overview of the AR.Drone2.0, the best flight videos and practical information.
  • Drone Update: Access the AR.Drone2.0‘s free software updates.
  • AR.Drone Academy: Get geolocation data of the best flight zones, watch other pilots’ videos and access their flight data.
  • AR.Games: Access applications/games available for the AR.Drone.
  • Photos/Videos: Directly access your own videos and photos. They can be watched or uploaded to Youtube for the community to enjoy.

After the AR.FreeFlight 2.0 pilot application has been loaded onto an iOS or AndroidTM smartphone or tablet, the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 connects to the device via WiFi. Once this has happened, all the on-board instruments appear on its screen, which becomes the “cockpit”.
Press briefly the take off button and the four brushless motors turn on. The AR.Drone 2.0 takes off.
Flying is very simple. With your thumbs placed on either side of the screen, a control button automatically forms beneath each one:

  • Press and hold the left button and the AR.Drone 2.0 follows the movement of the pilot’s device: it moves forward, backwards or sideways when you tilt the tablet forward, towards you, or to the left or right.
  • Slide your finger over the right button, and the quadricopter rises, descends, or rotates right or left.

Thanks to Parrot’s patented new ‘Absolute Control’, mode, the player accesses an even more intuitive piloting system.
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 motions and tilts.
Experienced players will select ‘Relative Flight’ mode, the conventional flight mode. This disables Parrot AR.Drone 2.0‘s magnetometer. The pilot manages the quadricopter’s orientation, with no assistance.

The heart of the AR.Drone 2.0 contains MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems). A 3-axis accelerometer, a 3-axis gyroscope, a 3-axis magnetometer, and a pressure sensor give the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 surprising stability:
Two ultrasound sensors analyse flight altitude up to six meters. New! pressure sensor completes the device, and affords great vertical stability.
Four blades, specially designed for the AR.Drone 2.0, make it possible to carry out particularly fluid flights.
A second camera, placed beneath the quadricopter and connected to the central inertial unit, measures the craft’s speed using an image comparison system.

The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 has two hulls with specially designed contours. Made of EPP (a material used in creating car bumpers), they are light, highly resistant and protect the quadricopter’s parts.
For outdoor flight, the contoured hull, available in three colors (orange/yellow; orange/green; orange/blue), reduces wind resistance and preserves the AR.Drone 2.0‘s handling and stability.
When indoor, a second hull protects the blades from any impacts. The black-and-white cockpit, underlined with a red stripe, reinforces the quadricopter’s mysterious, thrilling appearance.
Finally, light-emitting diodes (green in front, red in rear), positioned on the landing gear, help the pilot track the orientation of his AR.Drone 2.0 in space for easier flying.

In order to expand the use of the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 and its compatibility with other OSs, and to develop new flying games and applications, Parrot is providing developers and members of the AppleR and AndroidTM community with a software development kit.

By logging in at https://projects.ardrone.org and accepting the terms of the license, developers can access the source code used to fly the AR.Drone 2.0. A wiki and a tutorial are also available. A forum lets them discuss their work and share feedback with Parrot engineers.

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