The government may still be wary of them, but civilians, filmmakers, and wanna-be spies all clearly want more camera-wielding drones. Now Parrot, one of the companies responsible for the whole quadcopter craze, is finally announcing its own 1080p camera-totin’ model: The Bebop Drone.
Bebop comes with a built-in 14-megapixel camera that can shoot 180-degree footage with its fisheye lens. In a demo, its 3-axis image stabilization produced shake-free video (which is great, because that whole shaky cam fad always left me on the nauseous side). The quadcopter also has a gyroscope, accelerometer, altimeter, magnetometer, ultrasound, and vertical camera tucked inside its frame to keep actual flying super smooth as well.
This airborne camera-mobile also includes 802.11 AC Wi-Fi and dual 2.4GHz/5GHz antennas for connecting and streaming footage to Parrot’s new Skycontroller or your mobile device. (The latter can be used as a controller too with the Freeflight 3.0 iOS and Android app.) The Skycontroller is basically a fancy Android 4.2-running analog controller that connects to the Bebop Drone over a range up to 1.24 miles. It also includes a tablet mount so you can view its photos and videos while you navigate. The Freeflight app offers virtual, onscreen controls–as opposed to physical joysticks–as well as the ability to pre-program flight plans, including the option to schedule when and at what angle the Bebop will take a photo or video.
Bebop isn’t Parrot’s first time loading up a drone with a camera, but it weighs slightly less than its predecessor even with its bumper-like “hull” attached. Its Lithium Polymere 1200 mAh battery takes around 2.5 hours to charge and supports 12 minutes of flight time. That may sound paltry, but it’s on par with competitors’ capabilities.
The Bebop Drone doesn’t go on sale until the end of this year, and Parrot isn’t listing the price just yet. However, you can bet it won’t be cheap: DJI has a direct Bebop competitor with a built-in camera priced at $1,000. And GoPro toting drones from Helipal and DJI run around $400 (not including the cost of the GoPro).
Still, if you’ve got that kind of dough lying around, you’ll be able to take some pretty sweet drone selfies once this guy comes out.