The New Parrot Bebop Drone: Built for Stabilized Aerial Video

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Parrot, perhaps best known as the makers of the AR.Drone 2.0 smartphone-controlled mini quadcopter, made public an impressive new addition to their fleet this week: "Bebop." Whereas previous Parrot drones were built for hobbyists, with shaky, non-stabilized flight cameras, the Bebop looks as though it may become a serious contender in the  precipitously growing aerial-video market. The most notable features being touted for the new quadcopter are a unique image-stabilization system, and the ability, with the right hardware, to pair it with an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

Keeping the camera steady and level has been one of the biggest challenges facing videographers ever since they started mounting cameras on aircraft, manned or unmanned. The propellers generate vibration, wind and turbulence buffet the aircraft and, finally, the horizon is constantly shifting. Motorized gimbals and gyroscopic stabilizers have been the principal means of combating this trifecta of interference. Although, scaled down, relatively low-cost gimbals can now be had on the prosumer market, but drawbacks remain: they add weight and consume precious battery power. These factors translate into even shorter flying times, which on multi-rotos are already measured in minutes, if not seconds.

"Its camera  features a 180-degree fisheye lens, allowing it to capture a wider field of view than it needs, so the image can be cropped by onboard software, with an image-stabilization algorithm applied."

Bebop does things differently. Its camera  features a 180-degree fisheye lens, allowing it to capture a wider field of view than it needs, so the image can be cropped by onboard software, with an image-stabilization algorithm applied. If this sounds like electronic image stabilization (found on every consumer camcorder), 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." If Bebop gets jolted left, the screen of video that it's shooting instantly pans right.

By cropping the image, you lose resolution, which is why optical image stabilization is preferred. Bebop's camera can get away with it though, as long as the sensor is sufficiently oversampled. For example, an UltraHD 4K sensor lets you crop the image 4x, and it provides a Full HD (1080p) image. At this point, nothing is finalized, so we don't know what the Bebops's resolution will be, but almost certainly it will use oversampling. And considering the GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition can take 12MP photos, we know that the kind of hi-res, small-camera sensors the Bebop needs exist.

The other major feature introduced by Bebop is the ability to pair its camera with the Oculus Rift. The camera on the Bebop isn't 3D, so you won't quite get a full-blown virtual reality experience. But it does give you a truly first-person means of living your flights. To link the Oculus, it looks like you will need 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). Those lucky enough to get to play around with the prototype are reporting a healthy amount of latency through the Oculus. One hopes this is merely a bug that will be worked out by the time the system goes into production. Either way, props to Parrot for being first to market with this concept.

Bebop has GPS as part of the flight control system, and we can expect it to have similar autopilot features as the AR.Drone 2.0 does when paired with the Flight Recorder USB dongle. The prototype uses a 1200 mAh battery, which is reported to last around 12 minutes. Many have criticized it for having a short flying time; however, 12 minutes is about average right now for quadcopters in this range—you really need fixed-wing planes, which can glide to get significantly longer flights. There is no word yet on whether larger-capacity batteries will be available.

One neat legacy from the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0, which will almost certainly carry over, perhaps with enhancements to Bebop, is the app-driven flight control system, AR.Freeflight. With an iOS or Android smartphone or mobile device—phones are ideal because of their size—you hook up to the quadcopter's Wi-Fi and fly it right from your phone. The app also displays a low-latency FPV video feed from the camera as well as flight data overlays. From the video feed, you can record low-res video, snap stills, and even stream live to the Internet as long as your data plan gives you enough upload credit. By adding the Flight Recorder module, available separately, you can even use your phone to program in a waypoint-guided autopilot course or record a 3D plot of your flight path for subsequent analysis or just to prove to your friends what awesome tricks you pulled off. Since the software is open source, if the app doesn't do something you want it to, simply take some coding lessons and create the feature you want yourself—easy! This app-based approach has really been one of the Parrot AR.Drone's biggest appeals because it saves you from having to invest in an expensive radio controller and it combines control, video, and flight data in one easily portable device. Just don't for get to charge your phone's batteries.

It's worth emphasizing: the prototype has just now been made public. A release date is unknown at this point, and any specifications and features may change before Bebop goes into production. Because multi-rotor aircraft rely so heavily on computerized flight controllers, it will undoubtedly take a fair amount of field testing before Parrot is confident with the programming.

Discussion 23

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So what is the price of this bad boy?

The manufacturer has not released a ship date or cost yet. Our site will be updated with this information once we receive it. Be sure to check back.

Please create a notification system, so those interested can find out right when it is available and buy it from you, B&H!

Hi GC -

The manufacturer has not released a ship date or cost yet. Our site will be updated with this information once we receive it. Be sure to check back periodically when this new product will be posted.  When the product appears on our website you will be able to sign-up for an e-mail notification.  We apologize for this inconvenience.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Please let me know when there for sale

The manufacturer has not released a ship date or cost yet. Our site will be updated with this information once we receive it. 

Can you project when I can get one? This little package avails itself to real life functionality for my use. From my experience with your version 2, I am anxious.

Continue the great move forward.

Best of luck!

Bo Brenneman 

Hi Bo -

The manufacturer has not released a ship date or cost for the

Our site will be updated with this information once we receive it. Be sure to check back periodically and sign-up for an e-mail notification.  We apologize for this inconvenience.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

I am a high school teacher and I have 5 AR Drones for my classroom and I would love to get a Bebop for my classes to work with. They really enjoyed the AR's but everyone was talking about the Bebop.

Please let me know when it will be available and how much it willl cost.

Thank you,

Richard Humphreys, Ed.D.

St Martin High School

Ocean Springs, MS 39564

Hi Richard -

The manufacturer has not yet released a ship date or cost for the

Our site will be updated with this information once we receive it. Be sure to check back periodically and sign-up for an e-mail notification.  We apologize for this inconvenience.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Please let me know when this is available. Thanks.

Hi Andy -

The manufacturer has not released a ship date or cost yet. Our site will be updated with this information once we receive it. Be sure to check back periodically when this new product will be posted.  When the product appears on our website you will be able to sign-up for an e-mail notification.  We apologize for this inconvenience.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

According to the manufacturer's blog, http://blog.parrot.com/2014/11/18/the-price-of-bebop-drone-finally-unvei...

It appears that in the U.S. the Bebop Drone will be initially available in December 2014 through the Apple Store and Best buy for $499 for the Bebop Drone, and $899 for the Bebop Drone and Skycontroller bundle. Colors available are Blue, Red or Yellow.

I'll wait for B&H to have it available. Maybe the price will be a little better for it's loyal customers?  ;-)

Hi Josh -

The manufacturer has not yet released a firm shipping date for the Like you, we are  hoping to receive them in the weeks to come.

Our site will be updated with this information once we receive it. Be sure to check back periodically and sign-up for an e-mail notification.  We apologize for this inconvenience.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

After following the instructions to the letter I took Bebop outside on a calm day and sat it down and hit takeoff. It shot up to about 6 feet and hovered perfectly. I was controlling it with my Ipad which for awhile worked really well and I was thinking this thing is cool. Then suddenly it started gaining altitude for no reason and I immediately tried to bring it down and it responded by shooting skywards at warp speed and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I tried the return home button to no avail. I had the maximum altitude set at 6 meters so it should not have went above that height. I looked skyward and I eventually lost sight of it. Thinking it lost and my $500 down the drain I started looking around and to amazingly it had fallen back to earth upside on the lawn about 300 yards away from me. Fortunately it wasn't damaged but rather than risk losing my $500 next time I took it back to Best Buy. It is possible it lost the Wifi connection because in testing often times it would lose the connection but it should have returned home. I noticed another fellow had the same problem so this is not an isolated case. I called Parrot and told them about it and they didn't even care and said the drone would not be covered under warranty if it happened again. So buyer beware! This is what happened to me. Get the DJI Phantom FC40. It is cheaper and way more reliable.

Cool, how did you get one before they're on sale? I am fairly certain that nobody has them yet. Are you sure it was a Bebop you bought at Best Buy?

hi, I just bought a bebop drone in france and i am facing exactly the same problem. once i try to gain in altitude, it works well then i release the control on the ipad and despite the drone should stabilize it continues to move up; i try then to get it done and after some try it start to go down but i was unable to stop the descent and the drone crashed. then i decided to try again after verifying that everything was in order. i push the take off button and then instead of stabilizing at one meter height, it started to move up without limit. once again i was able to get it down but with no option to stop the descent and it crashed again. if anyone can help me to fix it, would be great. thanks in advance.

Hi Etienne -

I am sorry to hear you are encountering problems. Please contact Parrot directly for technical support:

Parrot

Tel: (877) 972-7768

Website: http://www.parrot.com/ 

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Hi Etienne, I just open my BeBop today... go outside to test and did it exacly the same problem. Stabilizes in one meter and suddenly, two seconds later it start climbing without control.... :( 

Have you solve the problem?

Hi,

i went to parrot to get support, they told me to reinstall the free flight3 application on my phone. i did it but unfortunately it did not solve the problem. so at the moment no solutions if you find one on your side let me know; thanks

Parrot bebop drone how much price, thank you,

Hi Jayaraj -

The manufacturer has not yet released a firm shipping date for the Parrot Bebop Drone Quadcopter. Like you, we are  hoping to receive them in the weeks to come. Please review the current pricing at the link provided above.

Our site will be updated with this information once we receive it. Be sure to check back periodically and sign-up for an e-mail notification.  We apologize for this inconvenience.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

My first outdoor Bebop flight and I love this drone. Open nix access, Very stable, Performs very

well. Always improving with ongoing R&D support. Will only get better. Works well with just your

phone for local flights or get the Skycontroller and you will stay connected at very long distances.

Here is my 1st  video of  just cuts no effects or stabilization, only BeBop
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuDIImeaVsY