AR.Drone 2.0 leaked information from CES

This week, Las Vegas plays host to CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, which means there are plenty of new toys, gadgets and fun bits and pieces headed our way in the not-too-distant future.

First cab off the rank is the AR.Drone 2.0, which is featured in an apparently leaked press release from Parrot.

It’s the newest version of the high-tech, smartphone-controlled quadricopter we featured in our E3 hardware wrap-up, and this time, it’s in high-def.

AR.Drone 2.0

The AR.Drone 2.0

Just like its predecessor, the shiny new AR.Drone 2.0 features an on-board camera. This transmits onto the pilot’s device screen exactly what the quadricopter sees. This makes for a fascinating flight experience – and the hardware upgrade bumps up the quality, introducing 1280×720 resolution to the mix.

The on-board augmented reality elements have also been tweaked, with the new camera able to recognise specific shapes, colours and patterns like never before.

Also new: AR.FreeFlight 2.0, the proprietary piloting application which features the ability to record, watch and share your flights – in gorgeous HD, of course!

If you want to make your videos just that bit better, try out the new “travelling” feature, which will snag HD video sequences with very little human input. Select the duration of the flight you want and the direction of travel (forward? backward? sideways?), and the quadricopter will do the rest, capturing a smooth movement sequence to your specifications.

You’ll be able to grab AR.FreeFlight 2.0 from the App Store or Android Market in the not-so-distant future. In addition to “merely” piloting the quadricopter, the application also offers a bunch of options wrapped in an all-new interface.

  • FreeFlight: Access to the piloting application.
  • The pilot can record flights, take HD videos or photos and save them in the piloting device. All the flight data (altitude, speed, duration and place) can be saved, checked by the pilot and shared with the community.
  • Guest Space: Access an overview of the AR.Drone 2.0, the best flight videos and practical information.
  • Drone Update: Access the AR.Drone 2.0’s free software updates.
  • AR.Drone Academy: Get geolocation data of the best flight zones, watch other pilots’ videos and access their shared flight data.
  • AR.Games: Access applications/games available for the AR.Drone.
  • Photos/Videos: Directly access your own videos and photos. Watch or upload to YouTube for the community to enjoy.

Under the hood, a 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, 3-axis magnetometer and a pressure sensor make for smooth flights, plus two untrasound sensors to determine altitude and an additional camera to measure speed. Wrap that all up in one of two hulls (the brightly-coloured outdoor contoured version or the protective indoor design which protects the spinning blades), and you’ve got a pretty impressive little gadget.

Due out a little later this year – Q2, to be specific – and for a tasty pricepoint of just US$299 (rrp), this one’s got a bunch of awesome added features.

Plus, did we mention it’s all built on an open development platform, with a freely available SDK?

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