updated 07:00 pm EDT, Tue June 15, 2010
Parrot announces AR.Drone coming to US in fall
Bluetooth device specialist Parrot at the E3 show is showing off its AR.Drone quadricopter that can be piloted with a connected iPod touch, iPhone or iPad. The quadricopter is equipped with two cameras, with the front-facing unit broadcasting what the quadricopter sees onto the screen of the Apple device controlling it. The AR.Drone connects using its own Wi-Fi network to the Apple device, and users need to download the AR.FreeFlight app to control it.
Users can then choose from a beginner or ace piloting mode. The former has two virtual tactile buttons to control the direction and maneuverability of the drone, while ace has a single tactile button to accomplish the same control. Pressing the take-off button will engage the engines and make the AR.Drone hover a few feet from the ground to await further instructions. A landing button will automatically land the drone.
The iPod touch/iPhone/iPad accelerometer also comes into play when controlling the AR.Drone.
The other camera of the AR.Drone points down and together with a connected Inertial Measurement Unit, can measure horizontal speed. Players can display either camera's view or both at the same time on the screen of their Apple screen.
The main camera will also enable augmented reality to show another AR.Drone in the game battle between two quadricopters or tags that can turn into virtual monsters or robots on the screen of an iPod touch/iPhone/iPad.
Three games that combine piloting the AR.Drone and virtual games will be available to purchase from the App Store. AR.FreeFlight is available for free and required for piloting the drone. AR.Dronegate is a solo game and will cost $2.99 on the App Store. AR.FlyingAce is a multiplayer game for dogfights with other AR.Drone pilots, also priced at $2.99.
The Parrot AR.Drone itself will be priced at $300 when it arrives in the US in September.