Thursday, September 9, 2010

ARdrone - coolest toy on earth

I ordered 6 weeks ago the ARdrone ( from brookstone. Today it arrived and it was like Christmas.
My wife actually did send me during the day a picture of the box to let me know I have a new cool toy.
I opened the package, put the ARdrone out and attached the battery (lucky it was charged).

Then I downloaded to my iPhone the remote control software. Yes, your iPhone is the remote.

I saw the ARdrone the first time at the CES in January and I felt in love.
The software for the phone is still buggy, it crashes a couple of time when starting the app, the app is stable as soon it is connected over wifi to the ARdrone. Before you can pair with the ARdrone (helicopter), you need to connect with your iPhone to the ARDrone wifi. It is not password protected, but I believe always only one phone can connect to it. If you have like me a lot of wifi router, you should be far from them, they can interfere.
The heli has two cameras, one in front and one on the bottom. You can switch with the app the camera image you want to see on your screen.
Controlling the ARdrone takes a few minutes to understand, but the cool part is that it has a safety control. As soon you take your fingers from the phone the heli stops and stands still in the air.
You have two buttons to control. One for left, right, forward and backwards and one for turning the nose around, up and and and down.
I was not able to get the heli higher than 20 feet but I might have done something wrong.
You can switch between indoor and outdoor flight. The indoor modus has a proximity meter that you don't hit walls. The iPhone shows the battery charge of the drone and will land the drone when battery has less than 5% power.

You can even play against another ARdrone. If you do so, you can simulate a shooting fight and you will see on your iPhone every hit as explosion.

Below is my first flight video, i had nobody to tape for me, therefore the view of the camera is off. I will make more videos in the near future (weekend is coming :) )

Some statistics:
top speed is 12 miles an hour
Weight 500 gram
Range of wifi around 150 feet
Flight lengths with one battery charge about 7 minutes
Recharging 90 minutes.

Overall it is a very cool toy and from technology and programming aspect an amazing execution. It is much much easier to fly the ARdrone than any other RC helicopter.

Pretty sure there will be soon an update with speakers that you can talk through the iPhone to somebody.

Taping the video which the ARdrone transmits would be nice too. Parrot made their software open source. I have no doubt that somebody will come up with some fancy stuff.

- Posted using My iPad

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