Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 ready for May takeoff, pre-orders start March 1st

It's been a few weeks since we stumbled upon the AR.Drone 2.0's unattended self-promotion back at CES. And, shortly thereafter took it for a spin. Now, Parrot's finally announcing its $299 next-gen quadrocopter will be ready to take off in May, with you early adopters being able to pre-order as soon as March 1st. The company's also added two fresh bits that were absent during our time with the 720p-packing drone in Vegas, one of which will let you bust out a barrel-roll move while in flight. The other is the inclusion of a USB port that'll let you grab whatever creepy amazing pics and vids you've been shooting with it and record them on any jump drive. You still have a couple months to go before you can grab one of these, in the meantime be sure to check out the glamorous press shots and PR below.

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Parrot 'AR.Drone 2.0':
High-Definition Excitement!

The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0, the new generation of Parrot's renowned high-tech quadricopter that can be controlled by Wi-Fi using a smartphone or tablet[1], will land in the US in May 2012.
With a new high-definition camera, video and photo recording and sharing, new piloting mode, increased stability and brand-new look, the AR.Drone 2.0 offers an experience like no other!

A flying HD camera
While in flight, the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0's front camera transmits real-time what the quadricopter sees onto the pilot's device screen.
For the first time the AR.Drone 2.0 camera, with a 1280x720 resolution, shows a view from the sky in high definition with smooth and unbelievable images.
The pilot enjoys an experience like never before, as if he was on board. For gaming purposes, this camera also can recognize specific shapes and colors to show augmented-reality elements on the smartphone's screen.

Record and share flying experiences
Thanks to the new AR.FreeFlight 2.0 piloting application, players can record their own HD flight videos and pictures on their piloting smartphone's or tablets' memory and share them with the AR.Drone community using YouTube or Picasa.
The pilot can also save images or videos on a USB key (not included) using the dedicated USB port hidden under the hull, close to the battery.

AR.FreeFlight 2.0, a new piloting and sharing platform
In addition to flying the AR.Drone, new application AR.FreeFlight 2.0 – available to download for free from the AppStoreSM and AndroidTM Market – offers players a new interface and several options.

FreeFlight: Access to the piloting application.
Recording flights' HD pictures and videos in the piloting device or a USB key.
Photos/Videos: Directly access your own videos and photos. Watch or upload to YouTube or Picasa for the community to enjoy.
Drone Update: Access the AR.Drone 2.0's free software updates.
AR.Games: Access applications/games available for the AR.Drone.
Get your AR.Drone: See an overview of the AR.Drone 2.0, videos and practical information.
Coming soon - AR.Drone Academy: Place for meeting and sharing content with the AR.Drone community. Get geolocation data of the best flight zones, watch other pilots' videos and access their shared flight data (high, speed, duration, geolocation...).

'Absolute Flight', a revolutionary ultra-intuitive flight mode
After the AR.FreeFlight 2.0 pilot application has been loaded onto an iOS or AndroidTM smartphone or tablet, the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 connects to the device via Wi-Fi. After connection, all the on-board instruments appear on screen with a cockpit view.

Press the take off button briefly and the four brushless motors turn on. The AR.Drone 2.0 takes off.
Flying is very simple. With your thumbs placed on either side of the screen, a control button automatically forms beneath:
· Press and hold the left button and the AR.Drone 2.0 follows the movement of the pilot's device: it moves forward, backwards or sideways when you tilt the tablet forward, towards you or to the left or right.
· Slide your finger over the right button, and the quadricopter rises, descends or rotates right or left.

Thanks to Parrot's patented new 'Absolute Control' mode, the player accesses an even more intuitive piloting system.

With a 3D magnetometer, the AR.Drone 2.0 knows its precise orientation with respect to the smartphone, which becomes the reference point. The pilot no longer needs to care about the orientation of the AR.Drone 2.0's front camera, which will accurately track the smartphone's motion and tilt.
Experienced players will select 'Relative Flight' mode, the conventional flight mode. This disables Parrot AR.Drone 2.0's magnetometer. The pilot manages the quadricopter's orientation with no assistance.

AR.Drone 2.0 stunts
For more enjoyable and exciting flights, the AR.Drone 2.0 is equipped, for the first time ever, with a 'Flip' feature.
Double tap on the button placed on the right side of the piloting device screen and the AR.Drone 2.0 will perform a loop. Both experts and untrained can be a stunt pilot!

Surprising stability at any altitude
The heart of the AR.Drone 2.0 contains MEMS (microelectromechanical systems).
A 3-axis accelerometer, a 3-axis gyroscope, a 3-axis magnetometer and a pressure sensor give the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 surprising stability, complete with:
2 ultrasound sensors, which analyze flight altitude up to 6 meters.
A pressure sensor completes the device and provides great vertical stability.
4 blades, specially designed for the AR.Drone 2.0, make it possible to carry out smooth flights.
A second camera, placed beneath the quadricopter and connected to the central inertial unit, measures the craft's speed using an image comparison system.

2 hulls made for both types of flight
The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 has 2 hulls with specially designed contours. Made of EPP (a material used in designing car bumpers), they are light, highly resistant and protect the quadricopter.
For outdoor flight, the contoured hull, available in three colors (orange/yellow; orange/green; orange/blue), reduces wind resistance and preserves the AR.Drone 2.0's handling and stability.
When indoor, a second hull protects the blades from any impact. The black-and-white cockpit, underlined with a red stripe, reinforces the quadricopter's mysterious, thrilling appearance.

Finally, light-emitting diodes (green in front, red in rear), positioned on the landing gear, help the pilot track the orientation of the AR.Drone 2.0 for easier flying.

An Open Development Platform
In order to expand the use of the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 and its compatibility with other operating systems and to develop new flying games and applications, Parrot is providing developers and members of the Apple® and AndroidTM communities with a software development kit.
By logging in at and accepting the terms of the license, developers can access the source code used to fly the AR.Drone 2.0. A wiki and a tutorial also are available. A forum is available to discuss new developments and share feedback with Parrot engineers.
The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 runs on a rechargeable lithium-Polymer battery (included).

Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 will be available for purchase at selected retailers in May 2012
in the United States for $299 MSRP

Pre-orders can be placed online or in-store at Brookstone starting March 1, 2012