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Parrot iPod-Controlled Quadricopter Launches This Week

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the amazing-fun dept.

Toys 67

MojoKid writes "Remote-controlled helicopters are not new, but Parrot's AR.Drone Quadricopter is set to make a splash when it goes on sale on Sept. 9th. It will use an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad as a controller, and give a live video feed from two different cameras to the pilot. Each model comes with two hulls, one of them for indoor use, with protective loops around the rotors. The device creates its own Wi-Fi network, which the iOS device connects to in order to control the Quadricopter."

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Review (1)

Cap'nPedro (987782) | more than 3 years ago | (#33488626)

Here's a review. [bit-tech.net]

£300, 7/10 and it needs an iPhone. I won't be getting one.

Re:Review (2, Informative)

halfaperson (1885704) | more than 3 years ago | (#33488706)

From the same review:

We should also mention that the control software for the AR.Drone is Open Source; while it only currently runs on the iPhone and iPod Touch, versions for Android and other devices should be forthcoming.

Re:Review (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33489352)

So if you don't own an iDevice you can either buy one now full price and admire it sitting in a box and hope that someone writes the software to control it for another device, or you can wait and it will either catch on and the price will drop and the software will appear or it will die a commercial death. Hmm, choices, choices...

Limitations in Android (4, Informative)

feranick (858651) | more than 3 years ago | (#33491268)

Android's version is ready. There is a problem however with Android not officially allowing ad hoc connections (which are used to connect to the drone), hence a stock android phone cannot be used. A rooted version does, however. More here: https://projects.ardrone.org/boards/1/topics/show/452 [ardrone.org]

Re:Limitations in Android (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33497524)

look at the README...

Re:Review (1)

TimeOut42 (314783) | more than 3 years ago | (#33489366)

They've got demo code up for Android on AR Drone's Developer Website; has some issues, but I suspect we'll see full featured Android controllers/games for the AR Drone if it sells.

Downside is that it's a really expensive toy that requires a really expensive controller. So, they may not sell too many of them.

Mine shipped on Saturday; will be giving the Android demo code a try as soon as I get it.

Re:Review (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33489614)

Well keep us posted on it! If you haven't already set up one of those blog-journal things here on slashdot, now is the time.

I have a rather nice Android phone and would love to get one of these drones working with it. The video feedback part is simply awesomeness. I am hoping for some sort of high definition version that will basically let me make some terrific videos and effects.

Also, I guess it goes without saying, that these devices could have some interesting uses in rescue, law enforcement and in military applications. But for me? I just wanna play!

My God! (1, Insightful)

balaband (1286038) | more than 3 years ago | (#33488628)

You actually want to say that iPad can replace 5$ worth of electronics? It's GENIUS!

Re:My God! (1)

olahaye74 (801533) | more than 3 years ago | (#33488712)

Where can I buy a "$5 worth electronic" that can display the view from the remote controled drone?

Re:My God! (0, Flamebait)

balaband (1286038) | more than 3 years ago | (#33488836)

Dude, there is 'iPad' in the title.....again. Not even Apple Zealots RTFS.

Re:My God! (3, Informative)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 3 years ago | (#33488906)

No, it says iPod in the title, not iPad. Who can't read?

Neither did you understand that the iPod touch, iPad or iPhone displays video taken from the drone, streams it over WiFi, and displays it on the screen. Technology that you cannot put together for $5. Imbecile.

Re:My God! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33488942)

Remote video with the range of wireless LAN can be had for less than $100, but it will not be laggy and choppy like the Wifi toy. Record-only video is about $10 including shipping from China, plus the cost of a micro-SD card. 2.4GHz remote controls (sender and receiver) with several times the range of wireless LAN cost $25 plus shipping.

Re:My God! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33489342)

So you're saying that you can buy a bag of parts for less? You're a regular Albert Einstein.

$100 for a RX+screen? (1)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33489646)

Where can I find that?

I've been toying with an analog RX/TX camera, it costs about $60, plus I had to buy a $50 composite to USB dongle, which I then view on a netbook.

Re:$100 for a RX+screen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33489820)

Something like that, just look for better prices. It's a global economy: Import directly, save the markup.

Disappointed (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33488630)

I thought from the name the thing was controlled by a parrot.

Re:Disappointed (1)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 3 years ago | (#33488650)

Originally it was, but during the long beta the parrot ceased to be.

Re:Disappointed (4, Funny)

alexhs (877055) | more than 3 years ago | (#33488734)

I thought from the name the thing was controlled by a parrot.

Originally it was, but during the long beta the parrot ceased to be.

No, no, he's uh,... he's resting!

Re:Disappointed (1)

dsavi (1540343) | more than 3 years ago | (#33488776)

This. Think of the possibilities! I want a parrot-controlled iPod, you can keep your quadricopter.

Re:Disappointed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33489190)

Isn't this the case for most of them already?

August 18th in Germany (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33488638)

Sold for 300 EUR by Saturn in Germany since August 18th:


ARM9-Processor (468 MHz)
400g total weight
up to 12 minutes in the air
up to 18km/h

Unsuitable for outdoor use in wind (3, Informative)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 3 years ago | (#33488680)

These are apparently better for use indoors as they can't tolerate much wind. Chris Anderson from DIYdrones (and WIRED), has reviewed them

http://diydrones.com/profiles/blogs/review-of-the-production [diydrones.com]

Re:Unsuitable for outdoor use in wind (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 3 years ago | (#33489654)

It is a common error to evaluate flying like walking. If you think of flying is like sailing, only the medium is a lot thinner, and is in 3 dimensions. Then things start to make sense. A simple breeze could veer this drone quite a bit off course. Personally, I wish that the Android could fly it also...

Re:Unsuitable for outdoor use in wind (2, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#33490200)

Yep many (not all) electric helicopters don't have that much power and can't fly that fast - if they did they wouldn't be safe for beginners (and flying those in small indoors spaces would take more skill).

So just a brisk outdoor breeze would be faster than their top speed, hence they'll be blown away...

I have an esky lama v3, and it's fun, but more hassle to fly. So I actually fly a smaller helis indoors. Cheap and fun. My latest is a "jin xing da" model 331 heli. It even has an accelerometer ("gyro"), so it controls pretty well, but doesn't fly as fast as one of my earlier small helis (which was lighter).

This Quadricopter thingy though has a lot more intelligence - seems you can push it around and it'll try to go back...

Re:Unsuitable for outdoor use in wind (1)

Dominus Suus (1187361) | more than 3 years ago | (#33494782)

If you're going to keep the Parrot indoors, you have to be sure to nail it to its perch or it'll muscle up to those bars and VROOM

Why? (1)

Alcoholist (160427) | more than 3 years ago | (#33488690)

Just asking. $1000 of kit to have 12 minute virtual dogfights? I can think of cheaper hobbies, like reading /.

Re:Why? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33488760)

The promo vid shows two cute homosexual boys having some fun with one of these things. The Gays can usually afford toys such as this, since they have sucked their way to the top and are pulling in the cash.

Re:Why? (0, Flamebait)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 3 years ago | (#33488976)

It's only $300 worth of kit for the millions of people that already have an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. There are plenty more expensive toys than that.

Not for children! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33488700)

Note that these quadcopters are quite dangerous. The brushless motors turn the propellers into saw blades. Youtube is full of videos showing deep cuts from even small RC planes with puny motors. If you fly this thing into a person, fun's over.

Re:Not for children! (2, Insightful)

WillDraven (760005) | more than 3 years ago | (#33489756)

If you make it out of childhood without one deep cut, broken bone, or serious concussion, you're not really ready to be considered an adult yet.

Some parts of life are dangerous. We have to learn to deal with and accept this when growing up. This particular example doesn't even seem life threateningly dangerous. Just get-some-stitches or maybe worst case lose-a-finger dangerous.

Re:Not for children! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33490752)

I wasn't thinking of the children. I was thinking of the people around the children.


Re:Not for children! (2, Insightful)

WillDraven (760005) | more than 3 years ago | (#33493128)

I mean, yeah, getting hit with one looks like it wouldn't be fun, but it's not as if he almost died. He also was running the motor and the prop without having it anchored to anything.

If you or your children are going to work/play with power tools, electronics, chemistry, or other form of engineering, you need to know what precautions to take to safely use your equipment and what the risks are when something fails.

In this case about the worst case scenario is loss of control resulting in somebody to get some surface lacerations. If your kid is intentionally flying $300 model airplanes into people, then perhaps you shouldn't let him fly one to begin with. Parents should be able to determine their children's ability to deal with a certain level of danger. If your kid's not prepared to handle high rpm propellers/BB gun/reciprocating saw then don't let them, but it's not a reason to hold back the kids that are.

So when..... (1)

scosco62 (864264) | more than 3 years ago | (#33488710)

is someone going to arm one of these.....granted, this particular model cannot carry even the lightest weapon right now....but scaled up, it might be a mini-UAV....

Re:So when..... (1)

Motard (1553251) | more than 3 years ago | (#33488800)

Put a grenade on it and it could become an interpersonal ballistic missile. Might help in clearing rooms, rather than the old fashioned way which gets soldiers hurt.

But its also cheap and available so the bad guys could get their own.

Warfare could get weird.

Re:So when..... (1)

WillDraven (760005) | more than 3 years ago | (#33489770)


You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Re:So when..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33490812)


Not a Parrot? (4, Funny)

crgrace (220738) | more than 3 years ago | (#33488742)

I was so disappointed when I learned this story wasn't about a parrot that had learned to control a helicopter using an iPod. Then he could get his own damn crackers.

Comment from article (1)

Goateee (1415809) | more than 3 years ago | (#33488794)

I'll bet we see a CSI episode coming up where someone mounts a pistol to one, shoots someone, then flies it into a fast-moving river. Oh great... now we can't have remote control toys anymore.

Re:Comment from article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33488826)

It's already been done. A year ago I remember seeing a LiveLeak.com video where a guy attached a rifle to a large RC helicopter and fired it whilst it was hovering.

Great fun (1)

renne_libre (1321651) | more than 3 years ago | (#33488846)

These have been on sale in Europe for a couple weeks already, and they are a hell of a lot of fun. Not cheap, granted, but a wonderful toy to fly around the garden.

oh where have I seen this before (3, Informative)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33488870)

To whom it may concern:

Shame this stuff is never covered when it's done by true homebrewing geeks. [jnaudin.free.fr]


Dongcopters. [youtube.com]

Re:oh where have I seen this before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33489872)


I'll click on that later when the kids aren't around.

I can think of one use for it (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33489126)

The neighbor's cat is toast!

The real entertainment here... (1)

hex0D (1890162) | more than 3 years ago | (#33489568)

...is waiting for all the online videos of next-door neighbors sunbathing topless, looking up all like "WTF!?" and running inside. And then the inevitable litigation for the encore.

Re:The real entertainment here... (1)

renne_libre (1321651) | more than 3 years ago | (#33489678)

Video can't be recorded (alas), and it's not nearly discrete enough for that, you can hear it coming a mile off.

Re:The real entertainment here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33490938)

Video can't be recorded, but screen shots can be taken.

Of course, why you want a 640x480 picture of someone at least 10 ft away is beyond me.
There's better porn out there ;/

Predator drone for the masses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33489780)

In addition to the aforementioned spy capacity, these could probably tote and unleash a small amount of plastic explosive or chemical poison. The Predator drone was used for peaceful purposes for like five minutes before we put missiles on it.

Re:Predator drone for the masses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33494418)

It could also be used for all sorts of scientific, open source map making and other things. Just because you have a negative slant on life doesn't mean people will use it the way you think they will. If that's a case for banning its use then why not ban the internet, cars and knives.

Inquiring minds wants to know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33489796)

Does it come equipped with a fully functional gaybomb?

latency! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33489838)

Wifi will never give performance you can expect from any RC flying object. You've just wasted U$300...

Re:latency! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33494462)

This is something that interests me. The range for these devices are very confusing. If you look at something like the xbee wifi rtx some sites boast it has a range of over 1 mile while others complain that wifi can't go past 40 meters.

There's also other things I've looked at such as DASH7 which boasts longer range and the fact that it operates at a different frequency (433 MHz) that can travel through water and around metal. That sounds pretty awesome but then it also says DASH7 can't do streaming video. What I'm wondering is if there is something like the xbee at 433 MHz that can do high range and streaming, then we'd have the perfect RC controller.

Otherwise perhaps it's a case of having a hybrid system where you have a transmitter for the video and something like DASH7 for sending commands, receiving data such as altitude, etc.

Sept 9th? Got Mine Friday (1)

Wingsy (761354) | more than 3 years ago | (#33492496)

Don't know where they got Sept 9th from, but mine came on Friday, Sept 3rd.

And it's still in one piece!

unfortunately, it's from Parrot (1)

Blymie (231220) | more than 3 years ago | (#33497336)

Parrot has *horrible* customer support. EG:

1) they have a forum. The forum server they use is not configured correctly. Trying to get them to configure it correctly (with sendmail logs, etc) results in silence, or answers that shows an inability to even understand the simplest of MTA or debugging concepts.

EG, from my MTA (sendmail):

  ruleset=check_mail, arg1=, relay=emencia02.ikoula.com [], reject=553 5.1.8 ... Domain of sender address www-data@sarge.ikexpress.com does not exist

# host sarge.ikexpress.com
Host sarge.ikexpress.com not found: 3(NXDOMAIN)

The above is an attempt to send a confirmation email, whenever I try to register an account on their forum.

When it became apparent that their sysadmin was completely incompetent, I emailed every email address at Parrot I could find, that even remotely resembled someone in authority.

Zero response.

That is, so I thought! A *month* later, support responded to me.

Since then, I've done a lot of reading on the Parrot product I have (the mki9200). Support forums, and general responsiveness indicates that releases are rarely tested comprehensively. New releases often reintroduce old, resolved bugs. New releases *always* introduce SIGNIFICANT bugs.

Parrot seems to be an extremely incompetent company, with very poor after sale support.

I'd stay clear. Very, very clear.

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