Tablet-controlled flying AR.Drone gets GPS, stabilization and post production software

AR Drone 2.0 preset movements and stabilization software help its footage blend into other productions

The AR.Drone 2.0 flying quadricopter will have a longer-lasting battery, GPS to plot and track flights, preset movements, and post-processing software to smooth out shots, thanks to additions announced at the International CES.

To see the updates to the AR.Drone in action, watch a video on YouTube.

"Not everyone is a pro director or pro pilot," said Julien Galou, product manager for the AR.Drone 2.0. "You can command the drone to do the move you want to do, just like a movie director."

On the AR Drone tablet or smartphone application, there are a set of controls that, when pressed, will execute a predetermined movement. Some include a slow panorama that rotates the drone and an easy rise or fall that mimics crane shots used in high-end productions. For someone who is not used to the drone's controls, these presets will really help get more professional looking shots.

"Then you have all of the video post processing effects that will correct the round [fisheye] effect of the lens and also cropping into the video to really stabilize it," said Galou. The main goal of the post processing features are so that users can blend video shot with the AR.Drone 2.0 with other footage. In the hotel hallway where the drone was flying, it was difficult to tell how well the post production software work, but in a video shot outside the convention center clips did appear smoother after post processing was applied.

The AR.Drone can now also log GPS data with a new "flight recorder," which is a GPS radio with 4GB of storage. It records where the drone is in 3D space; visualizations will be available on the AR.Drone Academy map.

Parrot said the new AR Drone application will be available soon, but didn't specify an exact date or if it would be free.

Nick Barber covers general technology news in both text and video for IDG News Service. E-mail him at Nick_Barber@idg.com and follow him on Twitter at @nickjb.

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