Super excited...the Parrot team sent me two AR.Drones as development kits! (One is for me and the other for a famous game designer friend). They just arrived, and here are some first impressions and closeups.

First, I haven't flown it at home yet because you've got to compile the source code with the iPhone SDK and then load it in ad-hoc distribution mode, and I'm not a iPhone developer (yet). But I did get to fly it at CES and it was just as awesome as you've heard. The coolest thing is that when you get in trouble you just take your finger off the iPhone screen and it snaps into hover mode exactly where it is and just stays there, totally locked. Amazing...

Here are some photos from the unboxing (these photos are all on Flickr, where you can mouse over them for notes. Just click on the photo and you'll be taken there):

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This is the main board, with the Arm9 core in custom Parrot DSP silicon, the downward-facing camera for optical flow, the ultrasonic sensor and the WiFi radio.

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This is a closeup of one of the brushless motors and ESC (the quad comes in either brushed or brushless models). This ESC runs at 200Hz.

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It comes with a 1000mAh LiPo and charger.

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You can see the carbon fiber rods through the battery compartment

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Green LEDs in the front; red LEDs in the back

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A USB-to-serial cable for hardware interfacing

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Developer
Comment by Ryan Beall on January 13, 2010 at 12:04am
That is insane....board design is sick
Comment by Dale Harris on January 13, 2010 at 3:47am
I want one of these badly :-) I wonder if they would give me one if I promised to fly it (and film it) off the top of Burj Dubai when I go there next month.
Comment by Michael Zaffuto on January 13, 2010 at 5:01am
Just to the left of the camera in the center is a 64-pin ATMEL IC ....
Even an ARM9 needs a little help every now and then! lol
Comment by Giles Barton-Owen on January 13, 2010 at 5:40am
This looks so good. Clean and cheap (?) package with everything intergrated and housed. I think parrot will go a long way...
Comment by Chris Whiteford on January 13, 2010 at 8:00am
Chris, hit me up if you want. I can build the App for you and get you a bundle you can just install through iTunes.

I snagged the code from Parrot yesterday and have been messing with it (mostly to see if I can adapt for the AeroQuad project).

chris.
Comment by TopperS on January 13, 2010 at 10:43am
Wow, way to go Chris snagging one of those...and thank you for sharing :D
Comment by Roy Brewer on January 13, 2010 at 12:27pm
@Chris Whiteford,

They have flight code available for d/l, or just game API?

- Roy
Comment by Chris Whiteford on January 13, 2010 at 12:41pm
@Roy Brewer
Its just the iPhone side. Control API and Game API (really. That's their marketing plan? Strange).

They do list in the developer docs the API used to send control commands to the quad, but the examples come with a static library for that (at least for the iPhone examples). All the main flight control code appears to be closed source and not available.

chris.
Comment by Jack Crossfire on January 13, 2010 at 12:55pm
It's probably over $500 for the brushless version. How did the French get 802.11 in there? The cheapest 802.11 module from $parkfun is a $70 brick. If only someone with teardown skills ended up with it, but the free samples would have to cost a lot more for that to happen.
Comment by Overwatch on January 13, 2010 at 1:12pm
SyChip makes an 802.11b/g module for $29, and I'm pretty sure there are even cheaper units out there.

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