The Parrott AR.Drone quadricopter bills itself as the first such machine that can be controlled by the iPhone and iPod Touch. This is not the case; take a look at the iPhone UAV Drone Control App (with video), created at MIT.
The AR.Drone is pretty slick, though. It uses a quadricopter made from carbon fiber and high resistance PA66 plastic, MEMS and video processing to ensure intuitive piloting, Wi-Fi video streaming for picture and control.
The AR.Drone has two cameras, the first one being underneath the quadricopter and positioned for Inertial Measurement. The Parrott website claims that this camera makes possible stationary flights that autocompensates for turbulence. The second camera streams to the iPhone or iPod Touch, providing steering information.
The device is being presented as a gaming platform as well as a fun surveillance toy. Take a look at the official demonstration video.
(Parrott AR.Drone quadricopter video)
This device is reminiscent of the raytron apparatus described in Ray Cumming's awesome 1928 classic Beyond the Stars:
Then Sonya prepared an image-finder. She connected the batteries, the projector, and the grid of glowing wires.
Alice and Dolores held the grid between them. Sonya fired the small projectile. It sailed off, a whirling pink ball. It was in reality a small, flat disk with a lenslike eye and a whirling, pink, glowing armature on top.
Over a radius of several miles Sonya's raytron apparatus could direct its flight, and back over the invisible connecting ray came an image of all that the lens eye saw.
(Read more about the raytron apparatus)
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/6/2010)