Ever wish your life was a video game, and you could shoot obstacles out of your way on a crowded sidewalk (or, hem, trade show floor)? This week at CES, Parrot unveiled a device that does just that. The new AR Drone is a helicopter-style flying robot that sees everyday objects and re-images them on a iPhone or iPod touch as virtual enemies or obstacles.
The Drone pairs with an iPhone over WiFi. You control the Drone's movements with on-screen gestures like taps and by tilting and turning the phone itself. It's equipped with a small front-facing video camera that feeds what it sees back to the iPhone's screen in real time. The trick, though, comes with how what the Drone sees is represented on-screen; real life items (like trees or rocks, but in the demo it's just a white box) can be tagged with bar codes, which its onboard processor scans and re-interprets as opponents, hiding places, or obstacles. The objects can then be re-skinned on screen as planes or whatever you can imagine.
The demo game we saw was a fighter flight scenario, but that's not how the Drone will ship. It's not for sale right now, but rather Parrot is looking at it as a new gaming development platform for app and software developers to let their minds run rampant on. In fact, two Drones can "see" each other and enter into a virtual on-screen battle.
The idea of the Drone, Parrot CEO Henri Seydoux told PopSci.com, has been four years in the making, beginning with the idea of controlling a car with your phone (something we've been seeing a bit of recently, in fact). But he wanted to make a toy that brings gaming out of the basement and out into the daylight. Plus, the gameplay is actually affected by real-world factors like wind gusts, making it much less predictable and different each time you play.
The platform is now open to developers, and Parrot expects the Drone to be ready for the public this summer.
Should put a warning on package, for Rich people only. all those that think they can afford this check again. teh average low end cost of a phone capable of using the software is around 500 dollars, not to mention the added cost of the drone, which will prolly run around 500. so if you have 1k to fork out for enetertainment of a floating donothing craft go for it.
P.S. give it 5-6months after release and a cheaper "drone" will be released.
this... is... SUPER COOL
This is very cool. I'd love to see this thing flying around for real :)
@Azorus: Expensive, yes. $1000, I don't think so :). They mention an iPhone, which is about $200, but if you shop around you could probably pick one up for $100. The software would be packaged with the product, and judging by the image, build quality, new-product craze... I'd guess it to start at $300, at most.
That runs you about $400 for the whole deal. However, I would also assume that most of the people interested in buying this would already have a smartphone capable of running the app to fly this thing, so the phone is a sunk cost.
give it some missiles and then I'm on board
How big are the 'real' drones we use in the military, and if this kind of flight and stability is possible at small scale, why can't we just expand it and turn them into flying cars?
Even if they won't fly outside due to wind and lightning and such...wouldn't there be a practical use in doors somehow?
"..........why can't we just expand it and turn them into flying cars?"
Lack of an energy source. It's difficult enough to fashion an energy source for something just moving on the ground. Aircraft need to be light to even get into the air with conventional power plants, and electric power, or batteries are seriously heavy.
You'll also notice that the structure of the toy is made of foam and thin-shell plastic, tiny wires, etc, which is the real reason they're not ideal outside. Very light means it has to use more power to adjust its avionics to remain stable.
If you want energy efficient flying machines, look to living creatures. Or better yet, ask why we want to fly in the first place.
What is new is old. I remember back when I was about 8 or 9, in the 40's, I had a game, Which was a flat periscope, that you used as a bombsite, it held 4 dart like bombs, and you would move it over a large flat dart board,that was on the floor, with a overhead picture of the roofs of a Nazi city. You were standing up looking through the periscope, and would pull a lever on the bombsite, and drop one of the dart bombs. There were numbers on top of the roofs for scoring. Who ever scored 150, won.
Always love that game, maybe they should put little bomb darts on the Parrot!
Mount an airsoft gun on it make it able to work with several devices other then just the iphone and sell it for $200 I'll so buy one of these.
I'd like to see netbook and wiimote functionality for example.
the suggestion to add airsoft is cool. it would add the complication of weight and recoil. As long as it was single-shot, it may be manageable.