Drone technology sure is moving fast. So fast, in fact, that French hardware company Parrot has already felt compelled to launch a follow up to last year's popular Bepop drone. The Bepop 2 retains the light weight and camera of the original, but can fly faster and longer with a flight time of 25 minutes, landing it in the same territory as leading consumer drones on the market.
There is no dramatic shift in design between the first and second iterations of Parrot's Bepop. The quadcopter's arms still stretching out of a curvy, rectangular body with a 3-axis digitally stabilized camera built into the nose. Like the original, this shoots stills at 14 megapixels and HD video at 1080p, with 8 GB of onboard storage.The difference lies mostly in the performance of the drone itself.
The new unit is carrying a little extra weight, 500 g compared to the 400 g Bepop 1 (17 oz compared to 14 oz), but this is negligible considering the huge leap in stamina. The lithium battery has been upsized from 1,200 mAh to 2,700 mAh, boosting flight time from 11 to 25 minutes. By way of comparison, all of DJI's Phantom 3 drones and the 3DR Solo drone are in the 23 to 25 minute range, though these hefty units all weigh in excess of 1,200 g (42 oz).
Another improvement is in the drone's acceleration. The original had a top speed of 29 mph (47 km/h), whereas the Bepop 2 can zip along at 37 mph (60 km/h) horizontally and 13 mph (21 km/h) vertically.
Controlling the drone remains largely the same. Users are able to rely on smartphone or tablet controls through the purpose-made piloting app, which works up to 984 ft (300 m) away, or extend this to a claimed range of (6,561 ft) 2.2 km with the optional, RC-like Skycontroller. The Skycontroller also enables users to experience first-person-view flying, with the Bepop 2 able to stream vision from its camera directly to virtual reality glasses like Oculus Rift in real time.
The Parrot Bepop 2 will be available from December 14 starting at US$550, or $800 with a Skycontroller Black Edition (pictured above) included.