May 12, 2014
Drones For The Consumer Market: Parrot Unveils UAV With HD Camera
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
While the use of drones by the government has been a controversial issue, some in the private sector apparently see the sky is truly the limit for the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) market. On Sunday consumer drone maker Parrot announced that it had developed a UAV that is equipped with a Full HD video camera -- and it could even be controlled with virtual reality technology.
The Bebop drone's 14-megapizel camera system sports image stabilization and a fisheye wide-angle 180-degree lens. The drone utilizes built-in GPS, which allows it to hover in place even if the pilot on the ground takes his/her hands off the controllers. Other sensors on board, including an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a magnetometer, help ensure the stability of the video. Would-be drone pilots can live stream the video or record up to 8GB of video via on-board storage drives.
The drone's MIMO Wi-Fi ac system offers both 2.4GHz and 5GHz support, SlashGear reported. Current battery life is about 12 minutes, so flights will be on the short end of the spectrum. Parrot, which already has produced hobby-level drones, confirmed that the Bebop can be controlled via an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet app.
The Bebop can also be controlled with an optional Skycontroller system, which uses four antennas that extend the Wi-Fi range of the drone for up to 1.2 miles (2 kilometers). Where the Parrot Bebop could be a true game changer in the drone market is in that it could further be used with the Oculus Rift headset. This would allow users to get a true bird's eye view -- or at least a view of what the Bebop's camera is focused on. Panning the camera then becomes as easy as moving the head.
SlashGear also reported that Parrot has made the drone user friendly: "The Bebop Drone is reasonably straightforward to fly, especially compared to traditional R/C helicopters. The onboard smarts - powered by a dualcore ARM A9 chip - handle things like takeoff, landing, and steady hovering themselves, which means you can quickly be spinning the drone around on the spot, or moving it while simultaneously panning the camera around."
The Bebop is actually racking up the frequent flier miles -- even if most of the travel is likely being done on commercial airlines as the company's execs fly to conferences and trade shows to demonstrate the drone's potential.
The Bebop took to the skies at the recent Small Unmanned Systems Business Expo (SUSB) in San Francisco, and the French-based company then headed to AUVSI's Unmanned Systems 2014 conference and trade show in Orlando, Florida.
Parrot, which started out selling wireless devices, including hands-free audio products, landed in the drone market in recent years. It is best known for its AR.Drone, which it demonstrated at CES this past January.
The company promised that more details on the Bebop will be released this week at the Unmanned Systems conference.
At press time no pricing details for the Bebop were announced. However at the recent SUSB Parrot CEO Henri Seydoux reportedly said that the price for the total package will be higher than the company's original AR.Drone, which sold for $300.
Parrot is not the only company currently flying high with drones.
Last month Google bought Titan Aerospace, a company that develops drones and was actually in Facebook's crosshairs. The search giant will reportedly use the Titan acquisition to support its Project Loon.