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Meet your own personal Android-controlled UAV: the Parrot AR Drone 2.0

April 27, 2012
parrot ar drone 2

Our regular readers know that we recently reported that the army might soon start controlling UAVs using modified Android smartphones. If you have any doubts that it could be done, let me show you what a regular civilian can do with around just $330. You won’t be able to actually bomb you neighbor’s house (unfortunately), but it does help to prove the versatility of smartphones these days.

Named the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0, this “flying thingy” is the only quadrocopter that you can control with your smartphone or tablet, so there’s that. But what makes the AR Drone 2.0 even cooler is the AR part in its name: the augmented reality feature that lets you play games by augmenting the live footage captured by the camera mounted on front of the qadrocopter. Take a quick look at the video below and tell me it doesn’t look like the dogfight of the future:

One of the notable improvements over the original Parrot AR Drone – launched back in 2010 – is the 720p camera with a 92 degree viewing angle, a bump from the mere VGA camera on the older model. We can only imagine the awesome videos you can make if you pilot the AR Drone 2.0 outdoors.

The altitude is basically unlimited, thanks to a pressure sensor that ensures the quadricopter stays stable. In addition, the 3D magnetometer makes the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 very easy to pilot while in the Absolute Flight mode, which uses the smartphone/tablet as a reference point. This way, every command you give is interpreted as relative to the smartphone.

The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 can be controlled with any Android smartphone, although it hurts me to say that Parrot has developed games only for iOS (don’t tell any iPhone fanboy, but in the video above, the Drone is actually controlled with an iPhone). Fortunately, Parrot has released the SDK as a free download, so third party developers can create AR Drone apps of their own. All Android app developers with a passion for flight can and should take a crack at it.

The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 will cost $329 and will be available from next month from various outlets.