updated 02:20 pm EST, Sun January 8, 2012
Parrot AR Drone 2 made official prematurely
Parrot's plans for CES were unintentionally made official after an early posting [reg. required] of the official release on DIYDrones. AR Drone 2.0 builds on the original by adding 720p video capture to the quadricopter. Owners can not only capture video but pre-program the drone to fly a linear path for a set duration while it records, opening the door to creative movie shots.
A new app for iOS and Android, AR.FreeFlight 2.0, carries a new "Absolute Flight" control scheme that's said to be much more intuitive. Owners pilot the new AR Drone from a virtual cockpit view with two touchscreen sticks. Parrot takes advantage of a new magnetometer to let users directly tilt the phone or tablet to lean the drone in the same direction.
Relative control is still available. An open development kit is being made available to let developers write their own apps to steer the 2.0 hardware.
The unit now has a more aerodynamic and stable design, and is intended to guard against lighter impacts. Bright color options and LEDs help make it clear which direction the drone is facing when it's significantly far away.
Parrot plans to ship the AR Drone 2.0 sometime in the spring, when it will sell for $299. The mobile apps will be free. [via AR Drone Flyers]