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Drone quadrocopter boasts 14MP camera, runs Linux

May 12, 2014  |  Eric Brown
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Parrot unveiled a Bebop Drone running Linux on a dual-core SoC, with a 14-megapixel HD fisheye camera and a WiFi-extending remote with Oculus Rift support.

When it ships in the fourth quarter, the Bebop Drone will take the place of Parrot’s popular AR.Drone 2.0 quadrocopter. Like the AR.Drone 2.0, the Bebop Drone is designed primarily for hobbyist use. The device is similar in size (32 x 28 x 3.6cm) and weight (350 grams), without the “hull” safety bumpers for indoor use. It is also similarly designed to be controlled via WiFi from Android and iOS apps.



Bebop Drone
(click images to enlarge)

Whereas the original AR.Drone ran Linux on a 468MHz ARM9 processor, and the 2.0 version moved up to a 1GHz Cortex-A8 system-on-chip from Texas Instruments, the Bebop Drone advances to a self-branded, dual-core Parrot P7 SoC based on Cortex-A9 technology. The device also includes a quad-core GPU, and a proprietary image signal processor. An 8GB flash drive and a micro-USB port are available for storage.

The quadrocopter features a much improved 14-megapixel camera with a 6-element fisheye lens that provides a 180-degree view. Together with the faster processors, the camera enables 1920 x 1080p video at 30fps, and 3800 x 3188-pixel still resolution.



Bebop Drone with fisheye camera
(click image to enlarge)

Images are stabilized thanks to a more refined 3-axis sensor suite that includes a magnetometer, gyroscope, optical-flow sensor, ultrasonic sensor, and pressure sensor, says Parrot. A GNSS radio with support for GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo signals, lets you plan a flight by pointing to GPS coordinates on your mobile “Freeflight 3.0″ app. The GNSS receiver also lets you automatically return the craft to the landing site.


Bebop up close
(click image to enlarge)

Freeflight 3.0 also lets you navigate directly, share videos and flight info online, and much more. As before, an open source Linux SDK is provided for app development.

The Bebop Drone runs on four brushless outrunner motors. Even without the hull protection, the device is said to be safer than the AR.Drone. You can touch the moving propellers without getting hurt, and if the device encounters an object, it automatically cuts its motors and falls the ground, claims Parrot.




Bebop Drone detail:
1) CPU board; 2) camera; 3) motors; 4) frame; 5) propeller; 6) GNSS radio; 7) WiFi antennas; 8) motor controller; 9) bumpers (hull); 10) anti-vibration rubbers

(click image to enlarge)

The WiFi radio, which offers 26dBm transmission and a range of 300 meters, is referred to as 802.11a/b/g/n, but is also said to offer “ac” like MIMO operation with 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands available. A Parrot Skycontroller add-on extends the range to up to 2km, according to Parrot. The extension unit provides a 36dBm WiFi radio, four antennas, and a pair of “ultra precise” joysticks, according to the company.

The Skycontroller supports HDMI input for FPV (First Person View) headgear including the Oculus Rift, Zeiss Cinemizer, Epson Moverio, and Sony Personal Viewer. This gives you an immersive view of the flight, and lets you move the focus of the camera by moving your head.



Two navigation options: mobile Freeflight 3.0 app (left) and optional Parrot Skycontroller
(click images to enlarge)

According to an Engadget hands-on report on the Bebop, the experience with Oculus Rift is “pretty interesting,” but “isn’t an experience we could see ourselves wanting very often.” Engadget also noted that there was no word on the future availability of the MiniDrone Parrot showed at CES in January.
 



YouTube video of Bebop in action

 
Further information

The Bebop Drone will ship in the fourth quarter at an unstated price. (The AR.Drone 2.0 starts at $300.) More information may be found at the Parrot Bebop Drone product page.
 

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