French Wireless Developers Parrot have announced the launch of AR. Drone, a WiFi controlled helicopter drone which incorporates mounted cameras (both widescreen and high speed), iPhone controllers, augmented reality, ultrasound sensors and new features such as automatic flight stabilization. Parrot say they had spent 4 years doing research and development for the project.
"The idea of the Parrot AR.Drone project is to create a performing qudricopter with the best of today's technologies in order to enter universes that are not yet explored, mixing video game and the real world." - Parrot Website
The AR. Drone is indeed impressive, the Drone itself has two mounted cameras, MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanicals Systems), and a powerful computer at its core. It is piloted via WiFi link to an iPhone or iPod Touch, which provides a first person perspective from one of the Drones cameras. The Drone also has auto pilot, including stabilizing the aircraft whenever the WiFi connection is lost.
Looking back at my article on Augmented Reality, it was only a matter of time before a cool new toy like the AR. Drone would be launched. The developers have been showing off the devices AR abilities by using reference points for the software to lock onto. This allows for one Drone to detect another, aswell as other objects which can be used as targets in an AR game. Parrot has also launched a Developers Program alongside the announcement of the Drone, which will be a code sharing, open API platform for 3rd Party Developers to create games for the AR. Drone.