AR.Drone: Roomba meets Skynet.

I got one of these -- it is ridiculously fun! Also, shockingly easy to fly, for a helicopter. When you take your hands off the controls, it just sits there. Then you smack it, and it wobbles, and just sits there.

It's only fun for ten minutes at a time, though. Predictably terrible battery life.

I see that there are a bunch of people hawking their own non-free control software for it -- do any of those do anything interesting that Free Flight doesn't?

Surprisingly, I find it easier to control with the iPhone than iPad; it seems more responsive, which is weird, because I understand the motion sensors on the iPad are better than on the 3gs.

They also have an SDK, which is awesome. Soon it will be weaponized. Though, with its light weight, the only practical weapon is probably SCORPION STARE.

Here's a whole series of videos that could be entitled, "how to be a dick with your UAV."

You guys, we live in a future where you can be a dick with your UAV. How awesome is that?

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22 Responses:

  1. strspn says:

    We need formation flight. Quick, find someone who wants to turn them into dot matrix pixels for adverts.

  2. edouardp says:

    Awesome indeed!

    Also, I note that the "Repair my AR.Drone" link features pretty prominently on their website. That bull *was* pretty pissed off.

    • yekop says:

      It's all pretty cheap, though. I've bought a replacement foam hull for $30, and some mending tape for $6. Seems reasonable and could've just as easily been double the price. Also the little guy is actually quite tough, I've had it fall 25 feet onto pavement, run at full speed into a telephone phone without the foam protector, and had probably 100 regular low speed disasters and all the key pieces are just fine.

  3. antifuchs says:

    Oh what I wouldn't give for a quadcopter-mounted SCORPION STARE platform remote-controlled with an iphone. I feel the pressing urge to write Laundry fan fic now, but then maybe antipope would come and glare at me /-:

    (captcha: inforthe success)

  4. substitute says:

    aerial refueling from power block suspended from balloon?

  5. mhat says:

    Easily the best toy in years. I want a stack of batteries and chargers, 3-4 is probably enough.

  6. jkonrath says:

    There's gotta be someone hacking around with recharging batteries by microwave transmission. I know the military is. (

    The only results I can find from a quick 6 AM google search are people trying to hook up their RV's microwave oven to a battery, which isn't what I was going for.

  7. lionsphil says:

    I like how they claim it would be able to record video if Apple would allow it (PDF). Maybe one of the third-party control programs can? Since it's ad-hoc wifi it seems to be begging for some upstart with a Linux laptop to try to steer one with a trackpad.

    At 90 minutes to charge for 12 minutes of life, though, ouch.

  8. lloydwood says:

    A short film commissioned by Nokia.

    • jwz says:

      That video was far too irritating to watch, but Kap Bambino was not the musical placement I expected...

  9. pavel_lishin says:

    Two applications come to mind right away.

    Mount a laser on it, and hover it in an elevator. Either mount a speaker on it, or hide it in the ceiling. As soon as doors open, someone's face to face with a flying laser drone. At this point you have two dialogue options:



  10. neacal says:

    This shall go on my wish list. Together with X-Plane 10.

  11. thenewyear says:

    One of the last parties I went to at, there was another guest who was flying one of these around the room with a slightly better camera setup. Someone fiddled with it enough to get the video stream to feed to one of the in-house laptops. I remember the whole rig to be really, annoyingly noisy. Though, it was delightful to watch this thing repeatedly headbutt a bunch of jiggly porn starlets.

  12. tedlick says:

    Zero History features one of these, if I recall. Good book by the way; if you gave up on Gibson in the 90's, his recent fiction is worth checking out. No longer future 'cyberpunk', his work takes place in the unevenly distributed future world some of us inhabit today.

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