By Tiffany Hsu
12:15 PM PST, January 8, 2013
Three airborne drones dipped and swooped in time to Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” at the Parrot booth soon after the show floor opened at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The Parisian company’s AR.Drone 2.0, which can now fly for 18 minutes straight, has a GPS-equipped flight recorder that tracks flight details such as speed and altitude.
There’s also a “Director Mode” with panning and stabilization capabilities for users who want to use the flying device to shoot video footage.
“We like to call it a big boy’s toy,” said the company’s marketing vice president Peter George, who said Parrot is aware of worries that the Federal Aviation Agency may clamp down on flying gadgets. “We’re a very consumer-oriented product.”
Parrot’s SenseFly subsidiary also upgraded its electric aerial mapmaker, now called eBee. The winged machine, so small it can fit into a case the size of a carry-on bag, can be launched by hand.
“You just shake it and throw it like a paper plane,” said Parrot Chief Executive Henri Seydoux, who said most previous map making was done from the ground in a “very long and very painful” process.
Fully autonomous during the flight, it can land on its own. Based on an area set by the user, the eBee records nearly a hundred images of the ground below it with precision down to a few inches and then feeds it into software that creates a 3-D map.
The product, according to Parrot, can be used for mine developers, urban planners, emergency and disaster management and more.
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