Parrot AR.Drone

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Parrot AR.Drone 2.0
Three Parrot AR.Drones being showcased (with 2 different coloured hulls and one with the included indoor hull applied)

The Parrot AR.Drone is a radio controlled flying quadrotor helicopter built by the French company Parrot. The drone is designed to be controlled with iOS devices (such as the iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch) and with Android devices,[1] (such as the HTC Hero and the Sony Ericsson Xperia). Unofficial apps are available for the Samsung BADA and Symbian devices.[2]

Flying prototype of the Parrot AR.Drone - 2009
AR.Drone 2.0 - 2012


Design and development

The drone was introduced at the Las Vegas International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in 2010. It is made of plastic and foam and about a foot (30 cm) long. It connects to an iOS / Android device using Wi-Fi to control its action and has two cameras which can be viewed through the device's screen. It also has the ability to recognize 3D stages, compatibility with augmented reality flying games, and an ultrasound altimeter that lets the Drone hover.[3]

Technical specifications

It uses an ARM9 468 MHz embedded microcontroller with 128 Megabytes of RAM running the Linux operating system. Communications are through Wi-Fi (b/g) and universal serial bus (USB). The inertial guidance systems use a MEMS 3-axis accelerometer, 2-axis gyro and a single-axis yaw precision gyrometer. An ultrasonic altimeter with a range of 6 meters (19.7 ft) provides vertical stabilization.

The structure is constructed of carbon-fibre tubes. The 15 watt electric motors are brushless type driving high-efficiency propellers. Power is from a rechargeable 1,000 milli ampere-hour lithium polymer battery pack delivering 11.1 volts. With a weight of 380 grams or 420 grams (with "indoor hull") it can maintain flight for about 12 minutes with a speed of 5 metres/second (16.4 ft per second) which is 18 km/h (11.2 miles per hour)

Two cameras are fitted, a wide-angle (93°) at the front which can supply live stream (640x480 pixels VGA) to a remote monitor, and a high speed vertical camera (64° lens) which can supply 60 frame/second.

The front camera can be used with software to detect a second AR Drone at 0.3-5 m (1 ft to 16.4 ft) giving:

Sensors and inertial measurement unit

The AR Drone has several motions sensors located under the central hull: The AR Drone features a 6 degrees of freedom (DOF), micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) based, miniaturized inertial measurement unit. It provides pitch, roll, and yaw measures. Inertial measurements are used for automatic pitch, roll and yaw stabilization and assisted tilting control. They are needed for generating realistic augmented reality effects. An ultrasound telemeter provides altitude measurement for automatic altitude stabilization and assisted vertical speed control.[4]

Augmented Reality Games

Parrot demos the AR.Drone with 2 games, a virtual combat called "DRONE WAR" with solo and multiplayer mode and a "ROBOT" solo game demo against a virtual Robot.

Parrot has launched Open API(Application Programming Interface) game development platform, to gather game studios and developers.[5]

Research and education

Due to its affordability, sensory equipment and open API, the AR Drone is starting to be a popular platform in research and education.[6] It has been used for experiments with visual-based autonomous navigation,[7] machine learning,[8] autonomous surveillance,[9] human-machine interaction,[10] and even as a sport assistant.[11]


Journalist Tim Pool has configured one that he calls an occucopter, to produce low cost aerial video. "We are trying to get a stable live feed so you can have 50 people controlling it in series. If the cops see you controlling it from a computer they can shut you down, but then control could automatically switch to someone else." With a 3G controller, such a device could be controlled from another country.[12] Reaction may, however, bring about a new concept of what constitutes privacy.[13]


Official logo of the Parrot AR.Drone

The Parrot AR.Drone received a 2010 CES Innovations award for Electronic Gaming Hardware.

AR.Drone 2.0

Parrot unveiled the AR.Drone 2.0 at CES Las Vegas 2012.

Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 take-off, Nevada

This quadrocopter toy features a HD 720P front camera and more sensors such as a pressure sensor working like an altimeter.

See also


  1. ^ "AR.Drone coming to Android, gets new multiplayer games". 2010-06-08. 
  2. ^ "Control your own augmented reality aerial drone? There’s an app for that". 21:50 January 6, 2010 PST. Retrieved 7 January 2010. 
  3. ^ "The iPhone: Now There's a Helicopter for That". Associated Press in the New York Times. January 8, 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-11. "At the International Consumer Electronics Show this week, Paris-based Parrot unveiled its AR.Drone" [dead link]
  4. ^ "Parrot AR.Drones specs". Chris Anderson from January 6, 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-06. "Parrot AR.Drones specs: ARM9, Linux, 6DoF IMU, Ultrasonics sensor, WiFi....WOW!" 
  5. ^ "The Coolest Video Game? It's A Hovercraft". NBC Universal, Inc. March 16, 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-16. "This year's Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco was flat-out upstaged by a hovercraft. The company that makes it, Parrot, calls is the AR Drone (the AR stands for Augmented Reality), but really, it hovers, and looks amazing doing it." 
  6. ^ Tom Krajnik. "ARDrone quadcopter in robotics research". Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  7. ^ Cooper Bills, Joyce Chen, Ashutosh Saxena. "Autonomous MAV Flight in Indoor Environments using Single Image Perspective Cues". Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  8. ^ Cooper Bills, Jason Yosinski. "MAV Stabilization using Machine Learning and Onboard Sensors". Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  9. ^ Jan Faigl,Tom Krajnik, Vojta Vonasek and Libor Preucil. "Surveillance Planning with Localization Uncertainty for UAVs". Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  10. ^ Wai Shan Ng, Ehud Sharlin. "Collocated Interaction with Flying Robots". Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  11. ^ Keita Higuchi, Tetsuro Shimada and Jun Rekimoto. "Flying sports assistant: external visual imagery representation for sports training". Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  12. ^ Noel Sharkey and Sarah Knuckey (December 22, 2011). "OWS Fights Back Against Police Surveillance by Launching "Occucopter" Citizen Drone". Occupy Wall Street. Retrieved December 26, 2011. "Tim Pool, an Occupy Wall Street protester, has acquired a Parrot AR drone he amusingly calls the "occucopter"" 
  13. ^ Calo, M. Ryan (December 12, 2011). "The Drone as Privacy Catalyst". Stanford Law Review Online. 64 (Stanford Law School) Stan. L. Rev. Online (29). ISBN 0038-9765. ISSN 1939-8581. Archived from the original on December 31, 2011. Retrieved December 31, 2011. "Associated today with the theatre of war, the widespread domestic use of drones for surveillance seems inevitable. Existing privacy law will not stand in its way. It may be tempting to conclude on this basis that drones will further erode our individual and collective privacy. Yet the opposite may happen. Drones may help restore our mental model of a privacy violation. They could be just the visceral jolt society needs to drag privacy law into the twenty-first century." 

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