May 20th, 2010

You probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that one of the coolest products being demonstrated at Google IO was an Android device but you probably wouldn’t have guessed it is a vehicle… and not the Chevy Volt. A company named Parrot was showing off their AR.Drone remote control vehicle – I’ll let you decide what category this vehicle should fit under:

The obvious Android interaction here is that the phone acts as the remote control for the vehicle. Up, down, left, right, turning – you name it. But there is a less obvious inclusion not demonstrated here.

The AF.Drone has 2 cameras, one in the front and one underneath, that can stream live video. An open source API will allow developers to write code that works in conjunction with those cameras, so recording that video is certainly an option. I can imagine this device flying over people at an event or gathering to get crowd reaction and feedback, or even just for fun at a family event or party.

The above is why I called it Blimp 2.0: at sporting events across the United States we’re used to the Goodyear Blimp delivering aerial shots at least once a game. How about one powered by your Android device?

I’d consider categorizing this as a helicopter, but it just looks so funky that I don’t think it fully applies. How about UFO? Yeah… that’s a little extreme too. But “AR.Drone” just doesn’t explain what you’re watching – what would you call it?

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I’m not sure what I’d call it besides pretty darn neat, and it should be available in coming months for a couple or few hundred dollars. Vague, I know, but if you wish real hard and put it on your list hopefully the elves will bring it in time for Santa to deliver.

From the Google IO description:

Parrot, a global leader in wireless devices for mobile phones, stands on the cutting edge of innovation. In January 2010, Parrot introduced the Parrot AR.Drone, a flying Wi-Fi quadricopter, which allows users to play video games in Augmented reality.

The Parrot AR.Drone utilizes wifi connectivity, OpenGL ES for video streaming, and the accelerometer and trackball for navigation controls.

Looks like we have our answer. Flying Wi-Fi quadricopter.

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