By Greg Gimlick
By now the ubiquitous “toy” from Parrot is well known among the hobby and toy industry, but it’s really so much more if you just dig a little deeper. That’s why I put the word toy in quotes. There are reviews everywhere telling you what it’s designed to do and where you can buy it for just under $300. What isn’t advertised are the incredible capabilities of the inner workings of this drone. Parrot is a world leader in wireless technology and we’re the benefactors.
A few minutes online with a good search engine will bring you to all sorts of sources for geeking up your toy. The operating system is Linux based and therefore open source, but keep in mind that there is a lot going on in there and it’s best to check with Parrot’s website to read the licensing agreements. Another reason to check there is to tap into their developer’s support network. Universities and schools around the world are exploring the realm of possibilities for this device and the accomplishments of “amateurs” are incredible.
I’m not a programmer, but just from my experience with my A.R. Drone, I can see where it might be fun to walk on the geeky side and move beyond the provided game scenarios. Check out these sources for food for thought and see if geeking up a great ready made drone platform is for you.
http://www.parrot.com/usa – The parent company and license owner
http://forum.parrot.com/usa/ – The official forums available in multiple languages
http://dronehacks.com/ – All sorts of info on software and modifications
http://www.ardrone-flyers.com/ – An online community of A.R. Drone owners
Photo taken from the front camera of the AR Drone while it hovered over my shoulder looking at me flying it with my iPad.
Screen capture of my iPad using the free AR Freeflight software to fly the AR Drone.
Screen capture of my iPad using the MatrixFlight HD program to fly the AR Drone