Parrot's AR.Drone was the surprise hit of CES 2010, and it seemed that even the French company themselves were overwhelmed by interest in the iPhone-controlled quadricopter. Since then they've been stringing us along with the promise of a full launch at E3 2010, and that moment has finally come. The Parrot AR.Drone will hit the US in September 2010, priced at $299.
Video demos after the cut
The AR.Drone has four sets of blades and two cameras - one front-facing, the footage from which is streamed back to the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad remotely controlling it, and one looking down which is used for auto-pilot - and can be used both indoors and outdoors. Gameplay - demos of which are below - can be individual or against other AR.Drone owners, with the quadricopter creating its own WiFi b/g ad-hoc network. Parrot plan to develop remote apps for other platforms over the next few months. You can see video demos of the AR.Drone in flight here.
On powering up, the AR.Drone's auto-pilot hovers it to 50cm above the ground and holds it there. If you take your fingers off the controls, or it loses the WiFi link, the auto-pilot kicks in and holds the quadricopter steady. Meanwhile, if you get an incoming call, the AR.Drone automatically lands. There are more technical details here. Parrot claim more than 450 developers have signed up for their AR.Drone SDK, and are obviously hoping that a fair chunk of that number will choose to produce augmented-reality gaming apps for the platform.
As we said, the AR.Drone will land on US shelves in September, priced at $299; it'll arrive in Europe and Asia shortly after. The AR.Free Flight app will be a free download from the App Store, while the AR.Dronegate and AR.FlyingAce apps - demos of which you can see below - will be priced at $2.99 each. Meanwhile there's an AR.Drone developers kit available now for $1,200, which includes the "loan" of a prototype unit and access to Parrot's support services; the prototype will be switched out for a final model when they're available.
Parrot AR.Drone demo:
AR.Drone video view:
Parrot AR.Drone: Invasion begins…
The first quadricopter for video games and piloted by Wi-Fi will be available in the U.S. in September under $300.
E3, Los Angeles – 15 June, 2010 - Parrot, leader in wireless peripherals for mobile phones, today unveils at E3 Expo in Los Angeles the final version of the Parrot AR.Drone, a quadricopter using augmented reality and piloted with an iPod touch®, an iPhone® or an iPad™.
With super intuitive handling, Parrot AR.Drone achieves spectacular flights and enables consumers to play video games in augmented reality.
You are piloting a one-of-a-kind quadricopter, where real and virtual worlds meet to offer unparalleled gaming experiences…
The front-camera broadcasts and streams what the drone is seeing onto the iPod touch or iPhone screen; and the image processing allows integrating real-time special effects of augmented reality…
Pattern Ergonomic piloting
With its shaped cockpit driven by four propellers with brushless motors, the Parrot AR.Drone offers excellent maneuverability and stability during piloting.
Parrot AR.Drone generates its own Wi-Fi network (no need for an Internet connection nor a router) at which you simply connect an iPod touch or iPhone. Once the “AR.FreeFlight” application has been downloaded, the iPod touch/iPhone turns into a true piloting station.
Two piloting modes are available:
- Beginner: two tactile piloting buttons to control the accelerometer / the direction of the drone and to maneuver ;
- Ace: expert mode with a single tactile button to pilot the AR.Drone.
Touch the take-off button on the screen of the iPod touch/iPhone and the Parrot AR.Drone starts its engine, takes-off, stabilizes a few feet from the ground and waits for the pilot’s instructions.
The player needs to put his/her left thumb on the screen and a control button will position under it. The accelerometer of the iPod touch/iPhone is detecting movements. Parrot AR.Drone moves forward, back or sidewise depending on the inclinations of the iPod touch/iPhone.
Another command button on the right of the iPod touch/iPhone screen enables the pilot to make the AR.Drone rise, go down or rotate.
In Ace mode, a single button enables the pilot to fully control and pilot the AR.Drone.
Touch the landing button and the quadricopter will land and stop its engines.
A unique high-tech quadricopter
Parrot AR.Drone is made of carbon fiber and high resistance PA66 plastic.
The heart of the AR.Drone contains MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanicals Systems), three axes accelerometer, two gyrometers [one axe & two axes], one ultrasound sensor and two cameras:
· The first camera, located underneath, is connected to an Inertial Measurement Unit. Thanks to this unit, the AR.Drone is capable of measuring its horizontal speed and performing mind-blowing stationary flights. The system of images comparison enables it to compensate turbulences due to the wind during outside flights.
These technologies are usually used for professional or military applications and have been adapted to gaming universe for the first time.
· The second camera, at the front of the quadricopter, broadcasts and streams on the iPod touch/iPhone screen what the drone is seeing as if the player was in the pilot’s position.
This camera plays a major role for video gaming thanks to the use of form recognition: it enables augmented reality.
For example, the front camera will recognize another AR.Drone in the game battle between two quadricopters, or tags which will turn into obstacles, monsters or robots on the screen of the iPod touch/iPhone …
Video streaming has been enhanced compared to the development version of AR.Drone introduced at CES. Also, the front of the hull has been strengthened to better protect the camera.
The players can choose the camera they prefer or display the two cameras simultaneously on the screen of the iPod touch/iPhone.
New rules for games
With the AR.Drone, Parrot is combining the worlds of video gaming and radio-controlled models.
This one-of-a-kind quadricopter enables consumers to recreate a large number of video games in the real world and also offers a multi-player possibility thanks to augmented reality.
To offer pilots unprecedented gaming experiences, three games will be available for download in the App Store℠:
- Application that is mandatory to fly and pilot the AR.Drone.
- Two piloting modes: beginner or expert.
- Downloadable for free on App Store.
- Solo game using augmented reality.
- Requires the two tags provided in the box.
- Story: After the successful downloading of photons, scientists try the same experience with matter. The first try is a catastrophe, a number of scientists disappear and a black hole forms accidentally. This is the “Grey Zone”. Military-researchers create a radio-commanded device able to bear the extreme conditions of the Grey Zone. But since, unexplained attacks occur on the facilities.
- Mission: Protect your military base and destroy “enemies”.
- $2.99 USD on App Store.
- Story: For the first time, you will be able to use a radio-commanded quadricopter to conduct aerial battles of World War II aces proportions.
- $2.99 USD on App Store.
A new look for inside and outside flights
Parrot AR.Drone is designed for flying inside and outside.
For a flight outside, a shaped hull reduces the area to the wind and offers an extreme maneuverability of the quadricopter.
Three hulls are available:
- orange and yellow
- orange and green
- orange and blue
These vivid colors enable the pilot to easily follow the movements of his/her AR.Drone. They are also easily recognized by the front-camera of the AR.Drone, which enables the AR.Drone to identify a competitor for two-player battles.
For indoor flight, a specific hull –with a white, gray and black cockpit- surrounds and protects the propellers if the AR.Drone hits an obstacle. Stickers, with colors similar to the shaped hull, can be fixed on each arch to enable drone battles inside.
Finally, electroluminescent diodes (green at front, red on the back), are positioned on the landing gear and enable the pilot to easily position his/her AR.Drone for piloting. These diodes also activate and react according to the action from the game.
A community of pilots
Available via www.ardrone.com, AR.Drone-Pilot Academy will be a website dedicated to Parrot AR.Drone users and fans.
This website will showcase approximately 20 videos and detailed information on the AR.Drone.
· Training Zone
This area of the website accompanies the pilot, from the first encounter of the AR.Drone to tips for piloting.
How to prepare your AR.Drone (installation of the battery, configuration Wi-Fi / iPod touch - iPhone…), pilot (control of the accelerometer…), do sophisticated maneuvers (circles, figure-eight, half-turn, slalom, obstacles race…), practice aerial battle (offensive and defensive maneuvers, indoor and outdoor battles…).
· Community Zone
Here pilots will be able to post their videos, share and discuss on forums, follow AR.Drone news (via Facebook, Twitter…).
An open development platform
Since the introduction at CES 2010, the Software Development Kit, which was updated in May 2010, is available for developers to create games for the AR.Drone. Source code porting on other platforms is also feasible from the SDK.
To date, more than 450 developers around the world have registered on Parrot AR.Drone platform.
The only bounds of the forthcoming games for the AR.Drone are the imagination and ingenuity of the fans of Parrot’s quadricopter.
To download the SDK or get more information, visit http://projects.ardrone.org.
Parrot AR.Drone: a technological first
The development of the AR.Drone required more than four years and the creation of about 20 patents.
For the first time, a consumer product encompasses:
· A quadricopter made of carbon fiber and high resistance PA66 plastic, with 4 brushless engines embedded;
· An inertial unit with MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) combining video processing with an automatic piloting software to ensure a very intuitive piloting of a radio controlled object;
· Wi-Fi and video streaming for a modern gaming interface with an iPod touch/iPhone;
· Images processing software for augmented reality.
Parrot has worked for 15 years on wireless technologies. Engineering is the keystone of the work of Parrot and the R&D department of the company consists of 150 engineers.
Parrot concentrates on the maintenance of its investments in R&D to a high level, with an important focus on the software and the signal processing. Parrot develops complete products in taking care of their use; because of this, software, electronics, design and also manufacturing costs are the daily work of the research department.
Parrot AR.Drone Invasion Plan
Parrot AR.Drone will be available for purchase at selected retailers* in September in the United States for $299 MSRP.
Availability in Europe and Asia will be announced in the following weeks.