Parrot unveils new, smaller Bebop drone & Skycontroller joystick control dock for iPad

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French UAV maker Parrot on Monday unveiled two new additions to its consumer lineup, taking the wraps off of the Bebop drone — featuring a 14 megapixel camera and 12 minutes of flight time — alongside a physical controller accessory dubbed the Skycontroller.

The Bebop drone comes equipped with a 14 megapixel front-facing camera that Parrot says is specially stabilized using a proprietary 3-axis system and can be rotated up to 180 degrees. Like its predecessor, the AR.Drone 2.0, the Bebop streams its camera feed in realtime back to the pilot's iOS device, which also acts as the primary controller.

While the Bebop sports the usual array of sensors — including an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, pressure sensor, vertical camera, and ultrasound — it weighs just 400 grams fully loaded, 20 grams less than the AR.Drone 2.0. The battery is beefier at 1200 mAh, but Parrot says that flight time remains the same at 12 minutes.

The Bebop also comes with built-in GPS, giving it the ability to fly autonomously and return to its takeoff location on its own if a problem arises.

Parrot's new Skycontroller accessory, meanwhile, acts as a dock for the iPhone, iPad or other device being used to fly the Bebop. The Skycontroller gives users the ability to use physical joysticks for piloting, and a built-in amplified Wi-Fi radio will allow users to control the Bebop from up to 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) away.

Users can also plug an Oculus Rift or other virtual reality headset to fly the drone simply by looking around. A complete list of compatible headsets was not announced, though it will likely support the same hardware as the AR.Drone 2.0, including the Epson Moverio and Zeiss Vison Cinemizer OLED glasses.

Parrot says the Bebop and Skycontroller are set to ship in the fourth quarter of 2014, though pricing has yet to be revealed.


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