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Parrot adds new video-capture features to AR.Drone 2.0 helicopter

Changes a toy to a video camera?

Parrot has added new functions to its Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 model helicopter. Video by Jim Martin.

The Parrot AR.Drone has become a fixture of the CES tradeshow in Las Vegas each year. For the uninitiated it's a model helicopter, controled via smartphone. The AR.Drone 2.0 raises itself above being a gimmick by packing a decent video recorder, making it a portable and flexible camcorder.

The 2013 model has some new goodies for high-end toy fans, under a catch-all term Parrot uses: "Smart Living". The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 now includes features such as GPS 'Flight Recorder', advanced flying camera software, a longer battery life and games.

Connected to the USB port of the AR.Drone 2.0, 'Flight Recorder' is a GPS module with a 4GB flash memory that records flying parameters. Parrot says this is like an aeroplane's so-called Black Box recorder. Flight Recorder lets you review your AR.Drone's flights in 3D on the AR.Drone Academy map. The company also hopes it will tempt developers into creating new apps for the Drone.

More interestingly, Director Mode lets you program pre-registered and automatic movements such as traveling, pan and crane. This lets you shoot interesting videos. Additional help for this includes an image-stabilization system and video post-processing features.

On a prosaic level, Parrot is announcing a new high-density Lithium-Polymer battery that increases flight time of the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 to 18 minutes. The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 costs around £280 and is available now.

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