Parrot has been a serious name in the drone business for quite a while now, thanks to their AR drone series. And the AR Drone 3.0, code-named Bebop, is a major step forward, not least for the features it’s loaded down with.
1. The Action Cam
First off, it comes with a very, very pretty new camera. The Bebop drone has a 14 MP camera with a fisheye lens packing a 180-degree field of view. It comes standard, and that’s fairly impressive in of itself; it means that essentially you can start using the Bebop right out of the box and take videos right away. But that’s just the start.
2. The Video Control
In a nice touch that’s a little hard to believe, but true nonetheless, you can pan and tilt the camera while holding the Bebop itself steady. As drone operators know all too well, keeping control of your video and keeping control of your drone can sometimes feel like mutually exclusive endeavors, so Parrot thinking of that is rather helpful.
3. The Video Software
Essentially, the Bebop comes with onboard video software that trims the video to reduce shake, wobble, and other annoyances in your filming. So instead of shooting shaky video, or hoping your gimbal doesn’t crap out, you’ll get smooth video every single time, sent straight back to your tablet so you can properly record it and post it online. You can, of course, also configure it just to give you a straightforward field of view stream.
4. Oculus Rift Support
Yep, you read that correctly: In addition to taking smooth video, you’ll be able to watch it as it streams in, as if you were actually flying among the clouds. By all accounts, the Rift support isn’t perfect; there are claims that there’s slight lag, and it’s more of a neat feature that needs refining than anything else. On the other hand, that’s still one heck of a selling point.
5. GPS Control
The Bebop has a built-in GNSS chip, as well, meaning it can use GPS, GLONASS, or GALILEO to get around. A nice touch is that you can set the drone to launch from one location, fly to another, and land, all without having to pick up a controller; it’ll just follow the route you preprogrammed using GPS, making shooting some of the odder shots you need a fairly simple process.
6. The Long-Range Controller
One of the limits of Parrot drones is that you generally can’t reach them out of WiFi range. The Bebop solves that with an optional controller you can buy as part of the package. Slot in your tablet or phone, and you now have control range for up to two kilometers. Of course, you’ll still need to plan ahead, since the charge only lasts twelve minutes. But it’s good to know that if you need more range, you can finally get it.
That said, you might want to start saving up. Parrot hasn’t confirmed a price quite yet, but has confirmed it’ll be north of $1000.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.