The AR Parrot Drone is part Apple app and part real life video game. Parrot may very well be the future of remote control (RC) toys. The Parrot is a quadricopter, meaning it has four blades instead of one, allowing for an increased amount of stability, an ease of flight that normal RC helicopters don’t have. Instead of coming with a controller, the Parrot allows for your iPod Touch to become the controller. It offers a free downloadable app that synchronizes with your Parrot, allowing you to fly it through WiFi as opposed to radio signals that most other toys work on.
As long as users have WiFi they are capable of flying the Parrot well out of sight range thanks to the on-board cameras which allow users to see what their Parrot is doing as it travels. These cameras also allow for a feature referred to as augmented reality. Augmented reality enables users to play a multitude of games with their Parrot as it flies about. These games range from an obstacle course to a number of dogfight options where you can face either a computer player, which is seen through iPod touch or iPhone, or another person with a Parrot. In the augment reality portion, players are treated to some decent graphics as the parrot flies through a number of obstacles or fires off a barrage of attacks.
The Parrot has a number of features that lend to the stability and fun of the drone. During the dogfights is really when the Parrot shows off its stuff. When taking a hit, the parrot will shake and tilt, taking advantage of the on board gyroscopes that lend to its balance, which enable it to respond somewhat lifelike upon taking a hit. Those same gyroscopes also allow the parrot to maintain its balance in light winds, thus preventing it from flipping over and damaging itself by crashing. The parrot sports not just one, but two cameras.
A control feature built into the iPod app allows for the tilt of the iPod Touch or iPhone to control the direction and movement of the Parrot. There are also simple touch screen controls as well. This is all tied into the smart technology built into the Parrot. If you fly outside the range of your WiFi, the parrot will not only shut itself off, but it will also take the time to make a controlled landing, limiting the likelihood of any serious damage to the Parrot.
The AR Parrot Drone, while being a fun little gadget, is hardly cheap. All those innovations and features cost money, and what it will cost you is the nice little sum of $299.99, assuming you have an iPod Touch or iPhone. If you don’t have either of those that adds another couple hundred dollars to the already rather pricey figure. Some reports state that a 30 minute charge is only good for about five minutes worth of play time, which would definitely put a damper on any fun. But no matter how you look at the Parrot, it is clear that it is a definite innovation in RC technology.
Photo from Creative Commons