Gadgets | Technopolis

Parrot AR drone

It serves no useful purpose other than amusement, which it does admirably

Parrot AR drone

February 12 2011
Jonathan Margolis

There are technology writers who would consign this amazing indoor and outdoor, iPhone-controlled four-rotor helicopter (“quadricopter”) to the joke-product pile. But I take seriously the job of entertaining colleagues. And in many years of looking for great novelties, I don’t think I’ve stumbled on anything as comprehensively diverting as this – which, bizarrely, comes from Parrot, a French audio company.

The Parrot AR Drone is exceptionally manoeuvrable using your iPhone or iPad as a control. The Drone kicks up its own Wi-Fi network rather than use a radio control. It also carries two video cameras, which send live footage back to your iWhichever while flying. Whereby lies a tale and a tip, which is: don’t fly it in its outdoor mode unless you have a very, very large flat field to fly in. I launched ours on Richmond Hill, overlooking the Thames, and it flew 20 minutes, obeying every command – until it didn’t. Having sent back some stunning sunset views, it picked up, I suspect, other Wi-Fi signals, and rose until it was a dot before becoming, in Monty Python terms, an ex-Parrot. In a bigger area we might have retrieved it once it ran out of power. Great fun, though.

See also

Parrot, Toys