Parrot AR Drone 2.0 A “Unique” Flying Experience
Parrot AR.Drone 2.0Starting under $200
Ease of Flying/Stability4.0/10
- ▪Very Stable Hover
- ▪Wide View FPV
- ▪Touch Screen Control
- ▪Poor Maneuverability
- ▪No GPS
- Range: 100-200 ft.
- Flight Time: 10-12 min.
- Weight: 1 lb (must register)
- Size: Full Size
The AR Drone 2.0 from Parrot is full of cool but strange features that leave you scratching your head. Parrot went all-in on two features that are unique to this drone. First, this drone likely has the world’s best non-GPS stabilization system. Second, this drone likely has the world’s best touch screen remote control. But execution is key in everything, and that’s where the AR Drone 2.0 stumbles a bit.
Here is a brief summary of the interesting and often contradictory features of this odd-ball drone. Even the name “AR.Drone” is strange…what does that mean? The AR.Drone 2.0 is likely the world’s most advanced non-GPS stabilized drone. Using two ultrasonic sensors and a downward facing camera to better judge the drone’s motion, this drone will generally stay put indoors and outdoors unless you ask it to move.
Check out our full Flight Test and Video Review
This is definitely an advanced smartphone controlled drone. But it is huge! With the indoor prop guard installed it is over 2 feet wide (62 cm) corner-to-corner. This makes it larger than the outdoor flying DJI Phantom. So why would you put the world’s best indoor stabilization system on a drone that is most conveniently flown outside? We don’t know. There are a whole host of YouTube videos of people flying them in warehouses and indoor skate parks. If you have access to one of those flying locations then more power to you. The guys at Half Chrome like flying in the comfort of our own homes when flying inside. But our children like getting their hair cut by a barber, not by a Parrot.
It is not stable in flight when you fly aggressively. Despite cutting edge technology, our AR.Drone seems off balance and flips back on itself when accelerating from forward to reverse flight. So much for all those fancy stability algorithms! Other people have a more positive experience, but we did not have good luck with maneuvers that are very simple with a $30 drone.
For a drone in the $200+ range, it does not come with a remote. The crew at Parrot decided to invest heavily in their phone and tablet controller apps. No doubt, these are probably the best touch screen controllers available. But, at the end of the day it is still a touch screen controller which is not nearly as good as a joystick controller. The range on this drone is tied directly to the device you control it with, making that hard to evaluate. Today you can buy a drone for $10 with a RF joystick controller that will outperform the Parrot touchscreen app. A $5 joystick remote costs too much for a $200+ drone?
Yes, Parrot does offer a controller at significant extra cost. Yes, there are hacks to turn a Play Station 3 remote into a joystick using a jail broken iPhone or rooted Android. But this is all craziness! Why should you pay extra or require a PhD in drone hacking to fly your drone with a joystick that should come included? A remote should cost less than $10 and come with the drone. Period. Full Stop. End of story.
Another anomaly given the cost of this drone is the absence of a GPS chip. A $5 chip costs too much for a $200+ drone? Really? Yes, you can purchase a GPS and flight recorder, but that will set you back another $75-100 on Amazon. You can buy that HERE.
The construction of the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 is either a genius or cheesy, we can’t decide (but it is mostly cheesy). It is mostly Styrofoam, which makes it both durable and light. While it sort of makes sense as a drone material, it has a cheap feel and parts of it are put together using double sided tape. The tape pulls off the foam making the tape only partially effective at holding the pieces together after it has been pulled back once or twice. It certainly could use some refinement. The drone arms are carbon fiber, which again is durable and light and an ideal material for a drone. But that just makes the plastic cross at the center of the structure the weakest link – a link that needed to be replaced by Half Chrome at a cost of $27 and 2 hours of labor. The AR.Drone has us scratching our head so hard it is starting to hurt.
The AR Drone Cameras
And now for the camera. Parrot deserves some kudos for putting a custom lens set on their forward facing camera. Unlike cheaper drones, the horizontal field of view (HFOV) is extended to 70° according to our measurements (Parrot reports 92° FOV, corner-to-corner). Inexpensive toy drones frequently have narrow 35 to 50° HFOV which make them difficult or impossible to fly using first person view (FPV). Parrot even added a second camera on the bottom of the drone that aides in keeping the drone stable. You can also toggle between the two cameras. If you want to see what your drone is directly under your drone you can switch to the bottom camera with a push of a button on the app.
So where did Parrot fall down this time? They didn’t focus their main camera correctly! We were able to hack the camera and significantly improve image quality by screwing in the lens barrel about an extra 20° turn towards the image sensor. When we first tested the drone, objects about 4 inches away were in clear focus but objects even a few feet away were noticeably blurry. We are not the only ones to receive out of focus cameras. Another instance of poor execution by Parrot. We’ve written a post dedicated to fixing the camera. You can read about that here. And don’t expect to be posting selfies with the downward facing camera, that thing has truly horrible image quality, they didn’t even try.
Overall the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 is a very intriguing drone. It has a lot of unique features that make it a favorite of many drone enthusiasts. If you want a drone that stands out, then check out the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0.
How does the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 stack up against a T-shirt cannon?
Not sure if this is the drone for you???
No worries Half Chrome Drones has you covered. Maybe you want an aerial photography drone, or maybe you want a fun toy. Want FPV? We’ve developed an advanced system to match you to the right drone. We call it our Half Chrome Drone Cipher™. Check it out. We also are constantly updating our Best Drones Now page to help you stay current.
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