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CES: Parrot announces helicopter controlled by iPhone

Parrot AR.Drone looks weird, is lots of fun

Bluetooth specialist manufacturer Parrot has been wowing visitors to the Consumer Electronics Show here in Las Vegas with its AR.Drone: toy helicopter and real-life video game that's controlled with an Apple iPhone.

The AR.Drone is in fact a 'quadricopter', with four 15-watt rotors that spin as fast as 1,500rpm, allowing the device to travel at up to 11 miles per hour. It is controlled by Wi-Fi signals, and includes four wireless cameras. Using these gamers stream video to an Apple iPhone or iPod touch - these will require a simple software update, and Parrot plans to add more phone platforms soon.

Using the images streamed, the device and softwre creates an "augmented reality" video game, which allows gamers to selet mundane objects in their environment and use them for point-scoring target practice. (Tired of your spouse? Here's the perfect, safe way of working off some frustration!)

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The AR.Drone device is made of carbon fibre and PA66 plastic. According to Parrot it is robust enough to be used outdoors, and it comes with a shield to allow it to be used indors without damaging the rotors (or the aforementioned spouse).

Parrot AR.Drone

The AR.Drone runs Linux, and Parrot is making the platform available to developers here at CES. According to Parrot, the AR.Drone has a three-cell, 1,000 mAh lithium polymer battery, and a 15-frame-per-second (fps) front camera as well as a high-speed (60fps) camera that looks straight down. It will be available 'later this year', and pricing is not yet known.

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