Like the Japanese flying sphere, the Parrot has gyro sensors that enable its impressive takeoff and landing abilities. When I wrote the Japanese sphere story, I couldn't find out whether the sphere's gyros were MEMS-based -- nor could anyone else, since it's a defense project -- but I wouldn't be surprised. The Parrot uses a three-axis accelerometer, a two-axis gyrometer, and a single-axis yaw precision gyrometer. I'd bet the Japanese sphere has an accelerometer, in addition to its gyros. It may also have an ultrasound altimeter, like the Parrot, which has a range of six feet.
The Parrot's front camera is a low-resolution VGA with a 93-degree wide-angle diagonal lens and 3D detection capabilities. The bottom camera has a 64-degree diagonal lens with a frame speed of 60fps, which is twice that of a typical machine vision inspection application. Operators can switch between the two for video feedback on the iPod Touch or iPhone control screen using a button in the application.
Having spent a sizable amount of time hacking the AR.Drone 1.0, I can say that Parrot could easily make it a serious flying Linux machine by adding a GPS option and add flexible vertically polarized Wifi antennas for added range. Instead of concentrating on their gimmicky virtual reality games (virtual reality for a physical drone - meh), they should enable "hot rodding" with higher-powered motor/rotors, pluggable peripherals, larger frames and batteries.
The AR.Drone is a very advanced, and pretty open architecture, little drone that can be much more with very little engineering effort!
Looking at this from the industrial design and cultural perspectives, it's interesting to observe the differences between U.S. and Japanese drones, both in the military and in games for consumer as described in this story. In the U.S., we design our mini flying stuff to essentially look like little versions of our fighter aircraft.
On the other hand, the Japanese designs seem to have evolved from Anime, in that they look somewhere on the spectrum from Mothra to whatever those other dinosaur-like horror movie characters were called. You can also see that this flying game comes from the same world in which humanoid-like robots seem completely normal. I guess what I'm saying is the cultural landscape in which engineers and designers work has a big influence on what the end products look like.
curious_device, thanks for your feedback. Good to hear from someone who's actually hacked the AR.Drone, and thanks for the confirmation of what I imagined: that it wouldn't take much to build a more powerful full-featured, multi-capable drone on top of this versatile open platform.
What an interesting observation, that US drones look like our military planes, whereas Japanese versions look like their fictional sci-fi characters. Makes total sense to me. Car styles used to reflect more of their respective cultures, too, back in the day, as did clothing, household objects and a ton of other things. Interestingly, Parrot the company is based in Paris. European design is extremely different from US design, in many different consumer products anyway as well as fashion, and some of it reminds me of modern Japanese design.
Re the cars, they also evolved from looking like houses on wheels (1910s and 1920s) to looking like boats, to airplanes, to. . . I actually forget what the analogy is for current vehicles. My observation about U.S. versus Japanese drones (military vs. manga) is original, but the car thing is an old one. You can really see how the first cars were like houses on wheels, with the high "walls" etc. Today, driver's seats are like airplance cockpits, and they'll get more so as we see the introduction of heads-up displays. That'll be a good thing, because it'll force drivers to actually look at the windshield, offering some hope that perhaps they'll look OUT it, too.
From boats to airplanes to...rocket ships? I know "rocket ships" sounds kind of 50s/60s, but that's what some of these newer car shapes make me think of. But maybe that's a continuance of the airplane cockpit look.
@naperlou: Hotrodding the AR is tricky. Each motor has it's own microcontroller and drive circuitry. Switching to larger motors means reverse engineering the controller protocol and matching the timing, which I have heard is rather tight. As the weather gets better, I'll be more inclined to mess around with things that fly.
As for general overall design style. The tri-,quad-,hexa-copters are designed in the short-flight, agile, high-energy use arena. The drones we hear the most about in the news are long distance, energy efficient, long flight-time designs (liquid fueled) which brings the design back to aeroplane shapes.
The copter-drones have been used to look inside buildings after earthquakes and other short flight applications.
Actually I think they're evolving into home entertainment centers. When I was a kid and a teen, all I wanted to do was to sit in the driver's seat and pretend to be the driver. Now, I'd much rather be in the back, reclining or sleeping or watching a DVD while cocooned from any potential dangers by 25 airbags and 12 cup holders.
Inspired by the hooks a parasitic worm uses to penetrate its host's intestines, the Karp Lab has invented a flexible adhesive patch covered with microneedles that adheres well to wet, soft tissues, but doesn't cause damage when removed.
Researchers at the Missouri University of Science & Technology have designed a new nanoscale material that can transmit light faster than the 186,000 miles per second it usually takes to travel through air.
It has often been said that as California goes, so goes the nation. This spring, the state's wind power is setting energy generation records and solar energy generation is expected to rise sharply during the second half of 2013.
A quick look into the merger of two powerhouse 3D printing OEMs and the new leader in rapid prototyping solutions, Stratasys. The industrial revolution is now led by 3D printing and engineers are given the opportunity to fully maximize their design capabilities, reduce their time-to-market and functionally test prototypes cheaper, faster and easier. Bruce Bradshaw, Director of Marketing in North America, will explore the large product offering and variety of materials that will help CAD designers articulate their product design with actual, physical prototypes. This broadcast will dive deep into technical information including application specific stories from real world customers and their experiences with 3D printing. 3D Printing is