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Thu Feb 7, 2013, 09:53 AM

Drone Home


Monday, Feb. 11, 2013
Drone Home
By Lev Grossman

A few months ago I borrowed a drone from a company called Parrot. Officially the drone is called an AR.Drone 2.0, but for simplicity's sake, we're just going to call it the Parrot. The Parrot went on sale last May and retails for about $300.

It's a quadcopter, meaning it's a miniature helicopter with four rotors; basically it looks like a giant four-leaf clover designed by Darth Vader. It's noisy and a bit fussy: it spits error messages at you from a comprehensive menu of them, and it recovers from catastrophes slowly and sulkily. (Pro tip: quadcopters mix poorly with greenery.) But when it's on its best behavior, the Parrot is a little marvel. You control it with an app on your smart phone, to which it feeds real-time video in return. Mashing the Take Off button causes it to leap up to waist height and hover there, stock still, in the manner of Harry Potter's broomstick. It's so firmly autostabilized that on a hot day small children will gather under it to get the cool downwash from its rotors.

It's a toy, the robotic equivalent of a house pet. But just as cats and dogs are related to tigers and wolves, the Parrot is recognizably genetically related to some very efficient killers.

Flying a drone, even just a Parrot, makes you realize what a radically new and deeply strange technology drones are. A drone isn't just a tool; when you use it you see and act through it you inhabit it. It expands the reach of your body and senses in much the same way that the Internet expands your mind. The Net extends our virtual presence; drones extend our physical presence. They are, along with smart phones and 3-D printing, one of a handful of genuinely transformative technologies to emerge in the past 10 years.

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Response to jsr (Original post)

Thu Feb 7, 2013, 11:02 AM

1. Military is using very very small drones in Afghanistan now

and probably in other countires
mainly for checking out terrain, looking for bad guys hiding, etc.

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Response to jsr (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 06:32 AM

2. I hope "borrowed" means you can return it.


The reviews for this drone are pretty horrible. @ Amazon.com

From durability (styrofoam), to battery life (~3-4 minutes), to camera resolution, to customer service (weeks, months, denial), promised upgrades not delivered, USB functionality, this product wasn't recommended except by those willing to update software before every flight, do their own repairs, live with subpar video, and buy upgraded batteries.

Good price for an RC toy ($300.00), but I'll wait for a better product.

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