Parrot has announced a new peripheral for its AR.Drone 2.0, a black box-style Flight Recorder with 4 GB of Flash storage to record GPS and flight data, as well as locally save about 2 hours of HD footage recorded on the drone's onboard camera. Parrot has also announced a new Director Mode for its piloting app which allows easy editing of recorded footage, as well as an improved battery which increases the drone's flight time by a claimed 50 percent.
In the grand tradition of airplane black boxes, Parrot has colored its new Flight Recorder module bright orange. With the outer shell removed, the module is fastened to the AR.Drone 2.0 with velcro, and connected by USB. The company says that the module tracks both GPS and onboard flight data, and is accurate to plus or minus 2 meters (7 feet). The data can be retrieved and overlaid on the maps of the AR.Drone Academy for viewing in 3D.
The Flight Recorder also provides new navigational possibilities. A Click & Go mode allows a destination to be set with a single tap of a map on a smartphone or tablet. Altitude and flight speed can be adjusted as desired. The new Return Home function calls the AR.Drone 2.0 back to its point of departure with a single push. The Flight Recorder is also compatible with the QGround Control station and the open source MAVLink protocol. Users of autopilot software paparazzi can install it on their drones thanks to a project at the Delft University of Technology.
Parrot's AR.Drone 2.0 (sans shell) complete with Flight Recorder spotted by Gizmag at this year's Paris Air Show (Photo: Gizmag)
Parrot has also announced a new Director Mode in its AR.Drone 2.0 piloting app. This allows the camera's white balance, exposure and saturation to be adjusted. More significantly, Director Mode lets pilots edit together videos of their favorite sequences, essentially allowing them to knock up quick highlights reels from longer flight videos. Parrot has also created a new Rescue Mode, available as a free update, which activates the propellers in two ways in order to dislodge a drone caught in a tree.
Finally, Parrot has announced a new lithium polymer "High Density" battery which, the company claims, increases flight time by 50 percent to a total of 18 minutes. It does not appear that this is included as standard on new AR drones.
Parrot's Flight Record is priced at US$129.95 and is available immediately. Director Mode is available as an iOS in-app purchase for $3.99 (the app must be up to date to see this option). An Android version is set for September. The High Density battery is set to go on sale for $69.95, but is yet to be listed at the online store.
Product page: Parrot Flight Recorder for AR Drone 2.0