The little drone that can, a nod to the future

sUAS News AR.Drone

For several weeks now I have been flying an AR.Drone 2 using an Android Nexus 7 tablet to drive it.

It worked very well until the A.R. Free Flight app was updated to allow Android users to join the AR Drone Academy. The Academy allows users to share video and stills, it also takes  your GPS position from the smartphone or tablet controlling the AR.Drone and pins flights to a map. After the app update the connection would take an age to happen with my AR.Drone and as such I did not trust it. I put the quadrocopter away knowing a fix would be along.

It’s worth stopping here and looking at the Academy’s numbers,  73k+ users have logged over 1 million yes that’s 1160762 flights for an airborne time of 4 years 48 days 10 hours 41 minutes 2 seconds. Very impressive stuff.  Other projects could learn this flight logging trick. When an aviation authority questions Parrot about just how well the platform works they can point to the numbers.

Anyhow the story in hand. On Saturday night I noticed that the app had received an update. Luckily I grabbed it.

On Sunday it blew, and boy did it blow. Power out trees down parts of thatched roof heading downwind.

Monday I thought a quick flight would be in order to have a look, if the unit would connect and behave. Imagine my delight when it did! No power still and a half charged AR.Drone so I have repeated the exercise today. Suns out as well.

My flying leaves a lot to be desired but the power of sharing is not lost on me. If I were a professional roof inspector the video I have taken could be sat in my head office now, sent via the data connection in my tablet. The exact date and time would be accurate because its GPS proven.

When the first insurance assessor arrived yesterday I noticed that he took lots of other pictures of the property as well.  Trees and roofs, imagine just how complete an image he could have created if he had flown around.

Parrot have a commanding lead in the emerging RPAS industry. I doubt very much if the entire worlds military could boast 73K trained operators, remember they are only the registered ones.  Its not  enough to have a platform that can fly and lift a camera. The ease of sharing information using control methods people know will probably push the buy decision in a crowded market.

The civil platform that removes the most geek from the flight experience will prevail.

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