Anyone Else Want an iPhone Controlled Quadrocopter Drone? (Video)
The AR Drone—a piece of engineering genius from developing company Parrot S.A.—lets you fly a hovering drone craft with video cameras from your iPhone or iPod touch. This is certainly the coolest piece of news I have ever had the pleasure to report on while being an iPhone blogger. The AR Drone combines a geek’s fantasy of remote controlled helicopters, cameras, and enough developmental flexibility to let it have a number of practical uses besides just the obvious fun that is to be had with it. Don’t worry, I have YouTube footage of the AR Drone in action from Parrot S.A. and a rundown on what it all means.
By utilizing a Wi-Fi connection and an iOS device, 15 frames per second of video streams to you from the AR Drone while you use the touchscreen to control its flight. This reminds me of those fancy Predator drones that the military uses against terrorists abroad. While you certainly will not be firing any missiles from your AR Drone, the platform the quad-propellered craft runs on supports gaming and image processing to give you your very own heads up display (HUD) on your screen. This allows for games involving other AR Drones trying to shoot each other down, and with hit detection algorithms and laser tag like hardware already installed, it looks like a blast.
The AR Drone runs on embedded version of Linux and packs an impressive amount of processing power and RAM for what is basically a fancy radio controlled car on steroids. The platform is fairly open, so developers can make interfaces to run the drone from laptops, desktops, or anything else with video and Wi-Fi. The craft even has an altimeter, and high speed, down facing camera that helps it stabilize itself in the wind. From the videos, it looks like the craft is pretty easy to fly. Of course, battery life is limited to only 12 minutes a run due to the amount of energy required to keep it in flight, and with a 90 minute charge time, you will probably want to look into some extra batteries and chargers if you fall in love with it.
Here is a video of the AR Drone in flight:
Here is a video of one AR Drone mock fighting another via software:
A hefty $299 comes with the AR Drone, but it certainly looks worth it for hobbyists and those who have always wanted their own flying camera. The way that the AR Drone interfaces with iOS is through an app at the iTunes App Store. The game featured in the second video is currently under development, but will be released via iTunes also.
Let me know if the fact that iOS is starting to become a platform used to interact with other electronic devices excites you!ios, games, Apple iPhone, cool stuff, Apple iPod touch