Location: 2012 Robotics Winner - Parrot AR Drone 2.0

2012 CES Robotic Category Winner, Parrot AR Drone 2.0 with SDK

Not only can you now purchase a relatively powerful drone for under $300, you can even program it to dance. This years robotic innovation we feel is for a generation 2 design of a product that almost won last year. In 2011, the AR Drone system was able to hover, fly remotely based on your Iphone as a controller, and send back low fidelity video. This year the Drone 2.0 was again at CES, and this time it's improvements merit a win for best in our robotics show.

What's new with the Drone 2.0?
This year, that same drone system has been upgraded dramatically. In under 365 days, this group has upgraded the camera from 400+ lines of resolution to over 720, and maintained the ability to broadcast. Next the teams learned how to fly smoother, hover better, and maintain altitude. As the distance to the ground rapidly changed (like when you fly over a building) new sensors can sense the beginnings of a rapid altitude shift, and correct in milliseconds, maintaining the smooth video footage. These droids are now ready for prime time, and not just a toy.

How do they do it?
Improved ability to stay level over undulating terrain, and over obstacles is provided by a ground proximity laser. The ground proximity laser is able to measure relative distance to the ground, and adjust the fan speeds to maintain level flight over obstacles such as walls, buildings, water, grass, and trees. The old system would gain or lose altitude as it passed over the building because it flew on the pressure differential alone. This second generation design compensates adequately. We were really impressed with the new control of the drone. In fact with the ease of flight, enhanced, and the ability to record a target accurately, these toys aren't just toys anymore. These Drones are now ready for prime time, and there is even a SDK to program with.

AR Drone 2.0 Website