One of the benefits of being a tech reporter is getting cool new tech toys to test out.
To that end, check out the video above. It's the first test video I shot with something called the AR.Drone 2, a personal quadricopter drone that sells for ls than $300 and is controlled by your iPad or iPhone or Droid device.
Coolest thing I've played with in a long time.
It can go over 100 feet up and a couple hundred feet in a circle – Wi-Fi range from where you are standing. That's what controls it. It creates its own on-board wi-fi hotspot, which connects via free software for your phone or tablet. In my case, I used an iPad. You actually see the image on your screen as you run the controls.
The drone has its own wide angle high def 1280 x 720 camera aboard and it's relatively easy to control, though if you watch this video of my first flight all the way through, you'll see it ended in a crash when it ran into some tree branches about 35 feet off the ground. It survived that crash, and two more so, despite it's light weight, it seems pretty rugged.
The HD camera takes stills or video which can be saved on your device or a USB memory stick, or uploaded to You Tune or Facebook. I used the Verizon Wireless 4g connection on my iPad to send this video directly to You Tube.
There's a collar of sorts you can wrap around it when flying inside.
Obviously, I need some experience. The wind for my first test flight was pushing 15 miles and hour, which is the drone's suggested limit.
The first video is pretty boring. I ran the drone up over my front lawn. What you don't see is Tai, my Norwegian Elkhound, jumping around underneath it, barking up a storm. When it crashed, I beat dog to the drone, otherwise, it would be history. I have up, down, left and right movements figured out but I still need to master the tilt control so it can move up and down. That would have been a good shot, to have videoed the barking dog raising a ruckus on the ground below.
Fun. I can see using this for loyts travel shots and overheads of the RVs I test out for this blog.
When the wind dies down tomorrow, I think I'll take it out and chase Tai around the yard with it. I'll put together a bunch of videos but thought you might like seeing this first one.
Based on just a couple test flights, I can already say the AR.Drone 2 is surely a candidate for my annual best tech gadgets of the year.