is the first quadricopter that can be controlled by
an iPhone, iPod Touch, or even an iPad. It is a groundbreaking
device combining the best of many worlds, including
modeling, video gaming and augmented reality (or AR).
Equipped with two integrated video cameras, ultrasonic
altimeters, gyro sensor, an accelerometer, and an intelligent
autopilot, the AR.Drone is incredibly easy to fly both
indoors or out.
this month's issue of AMP'D, we test the AR.Drone, and
meet the gamers head on, as they invade the world of
those not familiar with AR, or Augmented Reality, it is an
environment that includes both virtual reality and real-world
elements. For instance, an AR user might wear translucent
goggles; through these, he could see the real world, as well
as computer-generated images projected on top of that world.
the Terminator movies, Arnold Schwarzenegger?s character
sees the world with data superimposed on his visual field.
These virtual captions augment (or enhance) the cyborg?s
scan of a scene.
augmented reality system is one that combines real and virtual
elements, is interactive in real-time, and is registered in
three dimensions. In James Cameron's 'Avatar', we transported
to the world of Pandora using augmented reality.
Parrot AR.Drone uses both cameras to create Augmented Reality
The AR.Drone software includes AR functions such as detecting
other AR.Drone in flight, detecting and positioning markers
on the ground and on the walls.
How it Works
to the AR.Drone's on-board Wi-Fi system, you control it using
an iPhone®, iPod Touch®, or an iPad®. Although
it was initially designed for the Apple platforms, other platforms
will be available in the near future.
quadricopter is made with carbon fiber and high resistance
PA66 plastic. Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (or MEMS) and
video processing are used to ensure very intuitive piloting.
15-watt brushless motors spin the plastic gears and high-efficiency
props that were specially designed for the AR.Drone. A 3-cell,
1000mAh LiPo pack provides powered flight for 10-12 minutes.
device features a number of sensors, including a front camera,
a vertical camera and an ultrasound altimeter. Once paired
with your iPod or iPhone, the two integrated video cameras,
ultrasonic altimeters, 2-axis gyro sensor, 3-axis accelerometer,
and intelligent autopilot provide incredibly easy flight to
a distance of about 150 feet. On the bottom of the AR.Drone,
the vertical camera, in combination with the ultrasound altimeter,
provide stabilization up to about 20' even in a light wind.
The front camera uses a 93° wide-angle diagonal lens to
stream live images to your iPod or iPhone.
that safety is designed into the AR.Drone as it will stop
all blades if anything (including a finger) gets caught in
any of the four blades. Further, the iPod application, called
has an Emergency/Reset button right on the screen. When pressed,
the AR.Drone locks all four rotating blades and falls. The
AR.FreeFlight app is the official piloting application for
the Parrot AR.Drone and is available for free at the iTunes
iPod Touch® is
a music box, pocket computer, and a great portable game player.
It includes a built-in three-axis gyroscope. When paired with
the built-in accelerometer, the gyro makes the iPod touch
capable of advanced motion sensing such as user acceleration,
full 3D attitude, and rotation rate. A perfect controller
for the AR.Drone!
In the Box
AR.Drone comes well packaged in a custom box that can easily
be used for storage or travel. Two hulls are included; an
indoor hull with safety bumpers that protect objects it touches
from hitting the propeller blades and a lighter outdoor hull
that drops the flying weight about 40 grams.
is nothing to assemble and the battery pack comes ready to
plug into the balancing charger. The LiPo pack charging connector
is E-flite/ElectriFly compatible.
multi-language manual and Quick Start Guide get you up and
AR.Drone is connected to the iPod Touch or iPhone by an ad
hoc Wi-Fi link. The AR.Drone creates its own Wi-Fi network
and the iPod can then connect to it just like with any Wi-Fi
connection with the AR.Drone is secure because it is paired
with one iPod at a time. However, you can delete the pairing
by pressing the "Unpair" button on the bottom, so
that it can be controlled with another iPod Touch or iPhone.
the video below, I tested my AR.Drone for the first time in
my backyard. I was amazed at just how stable it could hover
and how easy it was to control with only one hand.
the 2010 NEAT Fair,
I met up with Bryan Spears of Parrot N.A. and we held some
joint demos in my tent area. The goal here was to introduce
the R/C world to the AR.Drone and solicit feedback about the
recently released product.
the AR.Drone was very well received. While the younger R/Cers
had less issue with the Apple controlling devices, the older
hobbyists were less comfortable with the iPod Touch and requested
that traditional receivers be used for their existing transmitters.
we were not allowed to fly in the pit area, we accepted an
invitation to fly in the large 30' x 30' tent hosted by the
Bergen County Silent Flyers where they offer small model seminars
after the noon demos.
put on an interesting demo, going around pipes and tables,
while handling questions. I manned the camera and recorded
one of the demos.
the tent demo, we walked over to the parkflyer area and Bryan
gave another demo outside. This time, he demonstrated how
the AR.Drone can lean into the wind for compensation and provided
a full-speed pass down the flying area at about 15mph.
Video was there to capture it for the 2010 NEAT Fair event
AR.Drone is a groundbreaking device combining the best of
many worlds, including modeling, video gaming and augmented
reality. Although it was initially designed for the Apple
platforms, it will be mated to other platforms in the near
AR.Drone is so incredibly easy to fly that even children
will pilot it instinctively, using the iPod or iPhone, without
any learning curve. Note that safety is designed into the
AR.Drone as it will stop all blades if anything (including
a finger) gets caught in any of the four blades.
major feature not mentioned above is the use of several
AR.Drones 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. The multiplayer game,
named AR.Flying Ace, makes it possible to have a battle
(or dogfight) between multiple AR.Drones. The hulls are
available in three different colors to easily identify your
AR.Drone. This game incorporates the augmented reality concepts,
especially for modeling missile fire.
AR.Drone is available at Brookstone stores or on-line at
Whether you are a gamer, or an R/Cer, or both, the Parrot
AR.Drone is an exciting flying creation. The technologies
used both in this product and the Apple controlling devices
take us one step further into the realm of augmented reality.
you fly electric, fly clean, fly quiet, and fly safe!
Special thanks for contributions
"Papa Jeff" Ring and Bryan Spears
section of AMP'D covers some of the questions that our
readers have sent in and I thought would be interesting
of all, "Thank You" for a great web
site that is highly informative and a great learning
tool. I have three sons that I have introduced
into this great hobby and it has been a pure pleasure.
have been reading about flying boats and all the
info out there and links are dead or antiquated.
The ones on your page are out of business except
Air Hogs and I am looking for plans or kits that
are not over blown in pricing and actually work.
Can you give me some direction to look?
for the kind words. You are correct in your observation
about the flying boats. The fad has pretty much
gone its path.
the current all surface craze, and much better
flying kits, check out Model Aero below. The Polaris
and Aquacat kits fly very well. Mine uses the
U.S. Coast Guard decals. www.modelaero.com