Thanks to the the FAA's recent decision to allow civilian drones into public airspace, the skies above us could soon be swarming with helpful robo-fliers. To that end, Parrot's newest model acts as a personal aerial surveillance system — albeit for only 12 minutes at a time.
The new Bebop Drone is all sorts of awesome. Designed for both indoor and outdoor flying (the bumpers you see in the top image can be removed, plus the system auto-stops whenever the blades strike something), the UAV platform itself measures 28 x 32 x 3.6 cm and weighs less than a 450g. A 1200mAh Lithium-ion battery provides 12 minutes of airtime per 2.5 hour charge, although the system does utilise a standardised port that can hotswap your existing battery packs.
The Bebop is, as Parrot CEO Henri Seydoux said at a press conference last Thursday, "a flying camera." Its lightweight frame supports a 14MP still/video camera with a 180-degree FOV fish-eye lens. 3-axis digital image-stabilisation provides a jitter-free view regardless of the drone's pitch and movement while videos and image captures are stored on-board in an 8GB hard drive. They can also be uploaded to the company's cloud locker service, Sky Academy.
The user controls the Bebop via a Wi-Fi connection using the iOS and Android compatible FreeFlight3.0 app for tablets and smartphones. The drone itself is equipped with four ceramic antennas and 802.11ac connectivity. A pair of on-screen dual thumbsticks allow for for movement and vision control while the drone beams back a live video feed of what it sees to the tablet.
The Bebop also offers a range-boosting Skycontroller. This device holds the tablet and acts as a Wi-Fi relay, boosting the tablet's signal by 36dBm and expanding the drone's range out to 2 kilometers. It also provides physical thumbstick flight-sticks for better control.
And, if you want to just get downright silly with it, the Skycontroller also includes an HDMI port for plugging in the Oculus Rift headset. You, in a sense, "become" the drone with pitch, tilt, and pan functions all controlled by moving your head around. That's nuts.
The Bebop Drone is slated for a fourth quarter release later this year but there's no word on price yet. [Parrot]