Friday, 12 November 2010

Affordable unmanned aerial drones

It may have been noted that I have a deep love of both engineering and technology. For this reason, I would like to bring some attention to the Parrot AR Drone. This is an unmanned helicopter comprising four rotating blades in a square that is suitable for both indoors and outdoors use.

There is some really cool stuff in the specifications. It has two cameras, one downward-facing and the other forward-facing; it can use the downward-facing camera to automatically maintain a position, even in breezes. It can be driven from an iPhone, iPad or IPod Touch. You can even dogfight multiple numbers of them.

Finally, the code is open source, allowing you to alter it as you see fit.

It is an amazing device. Just watch the videos on the website to see some of the things that it can do.

There is one problem, however: because it is currently driven by Apple devices, you cannot record the video that the drone transmits. You can watch, but not record, which really reduces the usefulness of the device. This is apparently due to Apple not having authorised this function. I hope that this problem will be resolved when the controlling application gets ported to non-Apple platforms.

Of course, this is little more than a toy, especially with the short battery life. Yet the technology is suitably impressive, and can only improve.

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