Founded in 1994 in Paris, Parrot is a maker and developer of products and apps for smart devices such as iPhones and iPads, as well as high-tech solutions for automotive and UAV applications. Parrot has developed a number of drone and drone-like vehicles, such as the AR and AR 2.0 quadricopter civil drones.
The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Quadricopter occupies a niche in that fine line between toy helicopters and the similar but more professional and expensive helicopters of model enthusiasts. Often referred to as a toy itself, possibly due to its light foam body and plastic rotors, it really isn’t a toy at all and has a variety of serious applications as well as ‘just for fun’ things, which means that it can appeal to professionals and amateurs as well for purposes ranging from spying on the neighbors to examining hard-to-reach areas to amateur filmmaking and photography.
And it’s certainly quiet enough to spy on your neighbors and safe for indoor and outdoor use as well. In addition to the base model there are several upgrades at various price points which include such features as extra extended life batteries and GPS support.
In terms of specifications, the Parrot AR 2.0 drone has two 720p HD cameras, one facing forward and the other facing down, capable of either recording video at 30 fps or capturing stills in .jpg format as well as stabilization to help offset unexpected gusts of wind. Weighing only 31 grams with the standard battery pack, this device has an approximate flight time of 12 minutes using a standard battery pack.
For controls, the drone connects to a smart device, such as a tablet or iPhone, and has a range of about 100 meters, although this may vary based on the device used, atmospheric conditions and other factors which can cause wifi interference. There’s also a 4GB flight recorder with a standard USB interface that allows for tracking and recording of flights.
Among the quadcopter‘s positive aspects, chief among them in fact, is that it’s simply fun to fly. Beyond simple amusement, as stated above, this is something that anyone with a smart device can find a use for without having to resort to chasing the family pet around the house.
It comes with two foam bodies, one of which provides enclosures for the quad rotors so that operating it inside isn’t the risky proposition that it sounds like. Physically durable, the AR 2.0 drones hold up well to the abuse of normal operation. While it may seem short, the battery life is on part with other commercially available vehicles of this type and since any smart device will as its controller, chances are you’ve already got one lying around somewhere.
Third party software, such as QGround Control, is also available for download.
On the other hand, when viewed as an absolute number instead of relative, twelve minutes isn’t a lot of time. There’s also a learning curve involved here; some may pick up the flight controls instinctively but others may have to practice and if they lack patience may become frustrated when the drone won’t do exactly what they want it to do the first time they try it out.
This, however, is not so much a flaw in the drone’s controls as it is simply a normal learning process. Speaking of controls, though, you are limited to smart devices when it comes to controlling the drone. The only known exception to this is the Nvidia Shield gaming system, which allows the drone to be controlled with the Shield’s thumbsticks.
Some may also see the 100 meter range and height limitation as drawbacks but this is actually an increase over the previous model and for extended flights a route may be programmed in in advance.
Also, as with any such vehicle, it is vulnerable to unanticipated gusts of wind. Stabilization helps here, but for such a light vehicle there’s only so much that may be done.
The verdict is, whether you see Parrot’s AR 2.0 Quadricopter drone as a toy or tool, there’s something here for nearly everyone as long as you have realistic expectations. Even if you don’t, you’ll probably still have loads of fun.
The AR 2.0 Quadricopter drone is affordable and if you’ve got the money to spring for it, it is recommended that you upgrade to the Power Edition which, between the two higher capacity batteries, will triple your flight time. And for the record, nobody recommeds that you actually do chase pets with it.