Parrot, is best known as the makers of the AR.Drone 2.0 smartphone-controlled mini quadcopter. They have recently added a new model that has peaked my interest. The new addition to the Parrot fleet is called “BeBop.” Whereas previous Parrot drones were built for the RC hobbyist market, with a 720p non-stabilized flight camera more for FPV than video recording, BeBop looks ratchets things up another notch bringing serious aerial video capabilities to the market. The most notable features being a unique image stabilization system and the ability, with the right hardware, to pair it with an Oculus Rift.
Its camera features a 180-degree fisheye lens plus a 14-megapixel sensor, allowing it to capture a wider field of view and higher resolution than it needs, so the image can be cropped by onboard software and have an image stabilization algorithm applied. If this sounds like electronic image stabilization (found on many consumer camcorders) that’s because that is exactly what it is. However, BeBop’s electronic image stabilization is a tad more sophisticated than your average home movie camera. It uses an array of sensors to keep track of movement and tell the software which way to “pan-and-scan.” For example, if BeBop gets jolted left, the “window” it crops out of the frame instantly pans right.
The other major feature introduced with the launching of BeBop is the ability to pair its camera with the Oculus Rift. The camera isn’t 3D, so you won’t quite be getting a virtual reality experience. But it does give you a truly first-person means of living your flights. By linking to the Oculus you’ll gain 3D functionality. If 3D is your thing you’ll have to purchase the Skycontroller, an accessory whose primary function is to extend the Wi-Fi range of the mobile device controlling the quadcopter up to 1.2 miles (2 kilometers).
BeBop uses GPS as part of the flight control system, and you can expect it to have similar autopilot features as the AR.Drone 2.0. when paired with the Flight Recorder USB dongle. It uses a 1200mAh battery, which is reported to last around 12 minutes.