Parrot AR.Drone gets longer battery life, GPS tracking (but not navigation)

I was hoping for GPS navigation, to make it a real drone, but we're going to have to settle for GPS logging for now.

From Mashable:

LAS VEGAS — Parrot's popular AR. Drone quadcopter will be getting some major improvements this year with the rollout of GPS tracking, longer battery life, better steering and revamped video recording capabilities.

That seems like a lot to cram into a new reiteration of the AR. Drone 2.0 prototype that is on display at the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show, but a demo conducted for Mashable on Sunday revealed the update is really something for fans to get excited about.

With promises for a launch "sometime this year," Parrot said the new battery will allow the quadcopter to fly for 18 straight minutes — six minutes longer than its current flight time. The battery will be available as an upgrade purchase (price to be determined), and it will come with the new model as well.

"We extended the battery because it's something a lot of people asked for," a Parrot spokesperson said.

It will also tout a GPS "Flight Recorder," which is a GPS receiver with 4GB flash memory that records flying perimeters. This means you can visualize your flight route on the map flights in 3D. It's also shareable with others.

The accompanying app, which is used to steer the device, will also get an update. A new feature called "director mode" will give more control to steering with the help of pre-registered and automatic movements. This is a huge improvement over the current model, where movement and turns are often bumpy and hard to control. Instead of moving your mobile device from one side to another, you will be able to hit a button to make it move forward, stop abruptly, turn around and pan. It also makes shooting videos easier to stabilize, and editing tools allow you to clean up shaky shots and colors.

The app games AR.Race 2.0 and AR.Rescue 2.0 — which allow you to race with others — will also be revamped to reflect the latest updates.

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Comment by Jack Crossfire on January 6, 2013 at 6:47pm

Almost 2/3 as long as the Lite Machines Corona could fly in 2006.

Comment by Leszek Pawlowicz on January 6, 2013 at 9:24pm

The Verge's article says that it can be programmed for automated flight using "cQGroundControl":

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on January 6, 2013 at 9:31pm

I think they mean with our own PX4 and PX4IOAR board and QGroundControl. That's using our board, not the native Parrot one. 

Comment by Oliver on January 6, 2013 at 9:49pm

GPS "Flight Recorder"? Wow! Having owned three Parrots (currently a 2.0) I can't wait to be able to get reports of where, within the practical, real-world range of hand-held wi-fi, my drone has been! What a thrill it will be to learn the coordinates of a spot as far as 150 feet away (on a good day). And gee, a better battery will be "available as an upgrade purchase"! Well, I currently fly my AR on Turnigy lipos that cost half of what Parrot wants and yield about 50% more flight time. "Revamped video recording capabilities" sounds like marketing-speak from someone who doesn't want to simply say "video recording now fixed so it actually works" (which would be nice). Don't get me wrong, the AR is a hoot but it's also strictly toy class and grossly overpriced. It's nice to use to introduce friends and family to drones as it's non-threatening and entertaining. It's kind of therapeutic to fly around the yard when you've been fighting with your Godzilla Decacopter's PIDs for three hours. Maybe the gaming aspect has something going for it, other than selling parts. But that's about it.   

Comment by Gary Mortimer on January 7, 2013 at 1:04pm

Well its one step closer towards a professional machine, can the images be GPS tagged now?? If so easier to create point clouds.

The flight control method reminds me of logo, I might be dating myself and getting the name wrong. Little three wheeled thing that you made go forward 5 left 1 pen down and so on and so on. BBC B and all that jazz.

Comment by Josh Potter on January 7, 2013 at 4:05pm

I just don't get the concept of flying from your phone's touch screen.  It's a novelty that I would think would wear off quickly.

Comment by Dan Overholt on January 9, 2013 at 4:08am

Chris, according to this information direct from Parrot, it's not just GPS logging they're adding:

This very clearly states that you can in fact use QGroundControl with the AR.Drone: "Simply place waypoints in 3 dimensions on a map to create a route that your AR.Drone 2.0 will follow autonomously. You can either create your flight plans ahead or set them in real time from your PC ground station." (no mention of PX4/PX4IOAR).

Maybe you should edit your original post?



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