Parrot Unveils New Drone and Controller, Both Oculus-Compatible

The company behind Newegg’s best-selling drone has just unveiled a brand new model that is ultra-lightweight, has embedded GPS with flight map control, and fully supports the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. Coined “Bebop”, Parrot’s new drone also features an impressive 14MP HD camera with a fisheye lens and built-in image stabilization. The Bebop won’t take flight until the end of this year, but amateur pilots are already touting it as the best consumer drone ever.

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Safety

The Bebop drone is considered to be extremely safe due to its feather-weight ABS reinforced structure. In the event of an accident, the Bebop’s propellers are programmed to stop instantly as Emergency Mode kicks in and lands the drone safely. The Bebop also has a built-in GPS feature that will not only locate the aircraft in case you lose it, but will easily bring it back to its take-off point. And, with the included EPP foam hulls, flying indoors will be safer than ever.

Weighing less than 400 grams, it took 50 engineers over three years to manufacture the Bebop. A lot of research went into developing the Bebop, and Parrot commissioned engineers that specialized in digital signal processing, aeronautics, Wi-Fi radio, and industrial design to put it all together. The result is a professional-quality drone that is focused on safety without sacrificing performance.

As the FAA is adamantly trying to control the use of unmanned aircraft in the sky due to safety concerns, the Bebop drone is the first to tackle these issues head on. With so many safety features, it will also be interesting to see if the FAA takes notice and loosens up just a bit.

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Performance

Powering the Bebop is a Parrot P7 dual-core CPU combined with a quad-core GPU and 8GB of Flash memory. All the components are attached to a magnesium shelf that also acts as an electromagnetic shield and radiator. Everything is controlled with Linux and Parrot is proclaiming this configuration is eight times more powerful than the AR.Drone 2.0 onboard computer.

An unmanned aircraft this powerful needs to be stable in the air and the Bebop does just that. It has three built-in sensors including a 3-axis accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer. Included with the bebop is also ultrasound technology with a reach of 8 meters, a pressure sensor, and a vertical camera that will track your speed.

Because you’ll be able to stabilize the drone wherever you want, taking advantage of the built-in MIMO Wi-Fi feature will be a breeze. The Bebop’s 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz antennas will generate an ac802.11n network up to 300 meters, allowing you to transfer your video or images to a mobile device or upload them to your favorite social media profiles.

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Camera

The Bebop is fitted with a 14MP HD camera with a fisheye lens that is capable of recording video and taking 180-degree pictures. Parrot engineers also developed sophisticated algorithms that use a 3-axis image stabilization system that maintains a fixed angle regardless of movements caused by wind turbulence. And, because the camera is also splash and dust-proof, pilots will be able to capture just about anything.

The Bebop’s camera is controlled with the Freeflight 3.0 application that is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. With the app installed on your mobile device, you’ll be able to control the angle of the camera with only a movement of your thumb, directly within the piloting application. According to Parrot, “the ergonomics of the application have been developed to offer a perfect ease-of-use to let the pilot focus on the pleasure of flying.”

Now that a federal judge has ruled that flying a commercial drone is legal, it’s not a stretch of the imagination that we’ll soon be seeing more aerial footage on news programs, television shows, and movies. And, depending on how much the Bebop costs, the average consumer will also likely join in on the action. An influx of drone YouTube videos will most likely happen thanks to the Bebop’s built-in MIMO Wi-Fi feature and HD camera.

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Controller

Along with the Bebop drone, Parrot has also developed the Skycontroller – an all new way to fly that is fully compatible with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. The Skycontroller features two precise joysticks and a smartphone/tablet port that is compatible with most devices. With a connected Oculus Rift, pilots will be able to experience a first-person view from the drone as they maneuver through the air with their thumbs.

The Skycontroller has a range of over one mile, allowing pilots to fully immerse themselves into their flights from a distance. Pilots will have an excellent bird’s eye view in every direction and the Oculus Rift will allow them to experience “extreme sensations” according to Parrot.

The Oculus Rift is still only available in a developer version and a consumer-oriented headset has yet to be announced. However, Facebook’s recent acquisition of Oculus VR for $2 billion puts the future of the headset – and the Skycontroller – in good hands.

With no official release date or price tag, consumers will have to wait to find out when they’ll be able to take the helm of the Bebop. But if these specs are half as good as they promise, you can be sure it will be worth the estimated $300 price tag.

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6 Responses to Parrot Unveils New Drone and Controller, Both Oculus-Compatible

  1. imajeff May 14, 2014 at 8:19 pm #

    This sounds so amazing! I’m an embedded developer but I had not been following recent activity on quadcopters and commercial drone development so I’m really impressed by what I’ve seen and read today.

  2. Tony Solorzano May 15, 2014 at 8:37 am #

    I’ve been waiting for Parrot to upgrade from the 2.0 since I saw it last year. I’ve spent over a decade covering High school and Collegiate sports, and the Bebop, if it has a good enough battery that lasts a while, unlike the 20 minutes duration the 2.0 has, it could revolutionize sports coverage for guys like me

    • Ivan B. May 15, 2014 at 8:49 am #

      According to the Parrot website, the Bebop has a 1200 mAh Lithium Polymer battery which translates into a 12-minute flight time. This may not be the drone to revolutionize sports coverage, but I think it’s still a step in the right direction for commercial drones.

  3. Joey Jay May 16, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    Whoever made this video misspelled “distortion” as “distortion.” Not a good first impression.

    • Joey Jay May 16, 2014 at 10:33 am #

      Damn spellcheck when I’m trying to misspell something. “Distorsion” was the misspelling.

      • Ivan B. May 16, 2014 at 10:59 am #

        It may have something to do with Parrot being a French company. English is not their primary language…

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