Parrot, a company best known for its commercial drone products, has presented at the recently held sUSB Expo in San Francisco its latest drone called the Parrot Bebop. This is a full GPS-guided drone that is controllable using an Android smartphone or tablet similar to the Parrot AR Drone. The difference this time around is that it comes with a high quality 14MP camera that is able to capture 1080p videos.
With the FAA now allowing civilians to fly drones we should expect a couple of these drones flying in our neighborhoods anytime soon. The Parrot Bebop drone can be used as a personal surveillance system. Designed to fly indoors or outdoors, it is able to sustain up to 12 minutes of airtime.
The drone uses four ceramic antennas for its Wi-Fi (802.11ac) connection allowing it to communicate with an Android device that has the FreeFlight3.0 app installed. The Android device being used will have two onscreen controllers which allows for movement and vision control. Images captured by its camera will be transmitted directly to the display of the mobile device.
A Skycontroller, which is sold as a bundle, can also be used with the drone which effectively increases its range up to 2 kilometers. This device attaches itself to a smartphone or tablet and increases the signal to 36dBm. It also comes with two physical flight sticks that are positioned on the left and right side of a mobile device which allows for easy control of the drone. The HDMI port on the Skycontroller can be used to connect the Oculus Rift. This will allow users to control the drone by head movement alone. We’re not sure that you want to test the 2 kilometer distance though as this drone has a limited flight time.
In terms of design the Bebop comes with several improvements over its predecessors. The obvious upgrade is the availability of the 14MP camera that has a 180 degree field of view and can record Full HD videos which is stored in its 8GB of flash storage. The camera is able to pan, zoom, and is more stable in taking photos and videos while in flight. Then there’s also the GPS feature which allows the drone to hover in place if the user takes their hands of the control. The GPS can also be used to plan a flight pattern or to send the drone home with just one press of a button. The propellers of the drone have shields which can be removed. If the propellers come in contact with an object they immediately stop spinning.
The Parrot Bebop drone is expected to be released in the fourth quarter of this year. It’s going to be available as a single drone or packaged with the Skycontroller. There’s still no information on how much it is going to cost however accompany representative said that it’s going to be somewhere in the vicinity of $300 to $400.