October 2nd, 2011
Ryan Ward was asking me the other day about the possibility of the AR Parrot Drone ($299) carrying a more sophisticated camera than the built-in one. I was skeptical because the AR Parrot people claim that “The AR.Drone has not been designed to lift or carry loads, however light they might be. Adding weight would make the device unstable, which could cause crashes or shorten the life of the motors“.
Then Ryan found a company that is selling a $79 under mount that allows you to mount a Go Pro video camera under the AR Parrot and has video on the site showing results. By the date on the video it appears this mount is only about a month old. While the Parrot occasionally rocks back a forth a bit there a quite long periods where the camera is held so stable the video looks like a still. Also notice in the video how the pilot flies the parrot into the woods along side the road between trees and then is able to easily back out and come back to the road. Very impressive for a $299 device being flown with a smart phone!
I have to admit this was a real surprise for me because if this works as well as it look like it does. It’s a potential game changer for UAV real estate photography and videography for the following reasons:
- Price: (UAV: $299 + Mount: $79 + Go Pro: $259) = ~$650 compared to ~$15,000 to $30,000 for a helicopter that could carry a full size DSLR. You could spend $650 on a 20′ or 30′ pole if you weren’t careful.
- Ease of flying: You don’t have to be a helicopter jockey to fly this thing like many most the the bigger R/C helicopters.
- Weight: Although I’m no expert, on this it seems like a AR Parrot packing a 5.9 oz Go Pro would be a lot less dangerous if you screwed up some how than a larger helicopter packing a 5 or 6 pounds of a full DSLR and lens.
Of course the quality of the AR Parrot carrying a Go Pro is not going to compete with the work that Rusty Freeman can do with his $30,000 chopper carrying a Canon 7D.
The bad news: As others have pointed out in previous posts about the AR Parrot, in some countries/states there maybe laws now or in the future that restrict UAV usage. It appears to me that currently in the US, any vehicle operating in US airspace currently requires a Certificate Of Airworthiness COA. For more details check this reference. According to the FAA website, the US FAA plans to publish new rules for what they call UAS’s (unmanned aerial systems) sometime in 2011.