Parrot AR.Drone 2.0: Linux based Augmented Reality Helicopter

Parrot announced a revised version of its Linux-based Parrot AR Drone “quadricopter” flying drone at CES 2012. The drone can now be operated with any Android device such as smartphones and tablets, whereas the previous version could only be controlled by an iPhone or iPad. Another new software features is the auto-pilot.

Augmented Reality Helicopter
Parrot AR.Drone 2.0

The quadricopter body has been redesigned and reinforced, and fitted with a new 720p HD front-facing navigational camera which can record video and help the pilot navigating the drone. There is also a vertical camera that was present in the first generation.

Here are the technical specializations of the Drone’s motherboard:

  • 1 GHz 32-bit ARM Cortex A8 processor (Maybe OMAP3?)
  • 800Mhz video DSP (TMS320DMC64x)
  • 1GB DDR2 RAM
  • USB 2.0
  • WiFi b/g/n .
  • 3-axis accelerometer
  • 3-axis gyroscope
  • 3-axis magnetometer
  • Pressure sensor for altitude measurement (altitude > 6m)
  • Ultrasound sensor for ground altitude measurement (lower altitude)
  • 60fps vertical QVGA camera for ground speed measurement.
  • OS: Linux 2.6.32

There are 4 brushless motors controlled by AVR MCUs and powered by a 1000mAh LiPo rechargeable battery.

The Android / iOS application is called AR.FreeFlight. The latest revision 2.0 is compatible with both AR.Drone and AR.Drone 2.0 and allows the user to fly and pilot the drone,  take pictures, shot videos, switch between the frontal and vertical cameras and set the autopilot parameters (altitude, max. yaw and vertical speed and tilt).

Description of AR.FreeFlight 2.0 User Interface
AR.Freeflight 2.0 HUD

There is a new flying mode called “Absolute mode” that help beginners control the drone by always moving the AR.Drone in the direction you tilt your mobile device, no matter which way the quadricopter is facing. This is made possible thanks to the 3D compass in the device where the pilot is the reference. The “old” control scheme, now referred to as “Relative mode”, is still available for pilots who prefer more realistic handling.

The promo video below shows the drone flying, taking pictures and shooting videos and the user controlled the device and getting the media on a tablet.

The AR Drone 2.0 is expected to ship in Q2 2012 for 299.99 USD. More information and videos can be found on AR Drone 2.0 product page.

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