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Written by Jay Smith. Flight and product demo videos by Jay Smith. Parrot unveils its newest creation. Model Aviation exclusive digital coverage.

On Monday, May 12, Parrot officially announced its latest product: the Bebop Drone. At a private press gathering in Orlando, Florida, Parrot CEO Henri Seydoux, shared a brief overview of the company, which is celebrating its 20th year in business, and details on how improvements in technology have allowed the company to produce a viable product line. The Bebop Drone sheds the popular AR.Drone title used in the previous two releases launched in 2010 and 2012 respectively. This may, in part, have to do with this release being targeted to the prosumer market.

Henri’s presentation revealed that the company had invested three years of research and development that brought together a collaboration of engineers, specializing in digital signal processing, aeronautics, Wi-Fi radio and industrial design, to develop the Parrot Bebop Drone. The indoor presentation culminated with Henri conducting a flight demonstration, which I captured on video.

Immediately following the press conference, I had the opportunity to venture outdoors and test-fly the Bebop Drone in two configurations. The first was using the Parrot Skycontroller, with a built-in tablet or smartphone dock, paired with the Oculus googles for flying in first-person view. A press of a button on the controller’s right stick launched the Bebop to a few feet off the ground and I settled in to my new perspective. Head tracking provided the ability to not only look forward, but also side-to-side and down. The three-axis stabilization made gentle corrections to compensate for the wind as I became acclimatized to the controls and handling capabilities of the impressive model. My exploration of the perfectly manicured green grass and beautifully landscaped surroundings of the golf course, from a vantage point not commonly experienced, was quite enjoyable and left me wanting to fly more. Not to be denied, I was taken to another piloting station where a Parrot engineer explained to me the functionality of using an iPad mini to control the Bebop. This time I piloted the quadcopter using both line of sight and an on-screen video coming from the onboard camera. The controls were a combination of using my thumb to control the altitude and yaw, and tilting the iPad handled the pitch and roll. Similar to the Skycontroller, the Bebop can be launched and landed with a touch of a button. Photography and videography can also be easily selected on-screen and photos can be taken during video recording.

The photo and video capabilities are impressive. Equipped with a 14-megapixel fisheye camera, the Parrot Bebop Drone records videos and pictures in a 180° field—delivering solid image quality. The photos benefit from digital image stabilization technology, and there is no curvature of the horizon. I enjoyed the opportunity to test a preproduction version of the Bebop Drone and my experience was a positive one. Although there were some minor hiccups, as was expected, the Parrot engineers were quick to resolve them and eager for feedback to improve the product prior to launch. Parrot has not yet announced a product launch date or pricing information for the Bebop, but the product is expected to be released sometime in 2014.

Parrot Bebop Unveiling at AUSVI Conference

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