Video Of The Week: Parrot AR Drone

I bought one of these on amazon at the suggestion of Laurent Eschenauer in yesterday's comment thread. I can feel my 14 year old self re-emerging. I can't wait to play with it. It's also a good excuse to learn a bit of node.js so I can program the thing.

If you want to skip the unboxing and information and go right to the flying part, that starts about 5:40 in.

If you have three minutes more for additional drone entertainment, click here.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    I can predict the headlines next week:”Unidentified drone seen carrying clothes to dry cleaner over Manhattan.”

    1. fredwilson

      a friend lives across the street from us on basically the same floori think sending the drone over the get sugar when we run out will be our first application

      1. Richard

        Maybe you are the next Howard Hughes

          1. Matt A. Myers

            Ha. I hadn’t seen that.

        1. fredwilson

          doubtful. he was an entrepreneur of the highest order.

          1. Richard

            Yep, Just ordered his biography #fearless, except of germs of course

          2. Matt A. Myers

            Q u a r …

        2. Matt A. Myers

          The Aviator is one of my favourite movies. His ambition is very motivational.

      2. William Mougayar

        Or send it to Kava to fetch your Cortado & you can have it on the balcony 🙂

        1. fredwilson

          #geniusI am going to write a program to make it do that

          1. Matt A. Myers

            This makes me think of how civilization is portrayed in Wall-e..

        2. Matt A. Myers

          Reminds me of the beginning of The Fifth Element movie.

        3. kenberger

          just don’t turn it into a business by charging to send it around to other neighbors, or by today’s laws you become under FAA regulation:…enjoy it while you can! Further regulation has got to be coming.

      3. andyidsinga


      4. ShanaC

        Aren’t you afraid of spilling the sugar?

    2. JimHirshfield

      It’s like a variation of the old joke: “this man walks into a bar…” no scratch that. “this drone hovers into a dry cleaners…”#ridicule = #return

      1. William Mougayar

        There will be separate store pick-up lanes for drones. You can imagine 2 signs: Humans | Drones

        1. JimHirshfield

          Paper, plastic, or drone Sir?

  2. bijan

    that is awesome. i love that you can ccontrol this thing with an iPad

    1. Richard

      The ultimate google glass hack

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Look at target, blink … and it goes … Actually with Google Maps Street View there would be lots of visual data for them to read off of.

    2. fredwilson

      And program it with node

  3. Richard

    drone insurance, hmmm

    1. Matt A. Myers

      How do you calculate that one though? Talk about a lot of possibilities going badly …Honestly though I think drones before they should be allowed to go en mass is very specific safety requirements. Not sure how possible it is – but protection around the blades for one; I do believe if done correctly it actually increases lift – putting rings around windmills causes more airflow directed different … can’t remember the specifics though.

      1. Richard

        Your question makes me think of the question of the Gilded age vs today? It is said that the “the gilded age saw a gigantic tidal wave of human ingenuity and resource, so stupendous in its magnitude, so complex in its diversity, so profound in its thought, so fruitful in its wealth, so beneficent in its results, that the mind is strained and embarrassed in its effort to expand to a full appreciation of it. Indeed the period seems a grand climax of discovery, rather than an increment of growth” (Byrn, 1901, p. 3).can we repeat this perfect storm of invention and innovation?

        1. Matt A. Myers

          I imagine innovation and benefit will come, though wondering if we can avoid the potential negatives that come from it. Much like with all technology that pollutes – if we had only developed and required it not to pollute, innovation still would have moved forward … and faster toward ‘green’ solutions.

      2. LE

        The ar drone comes with a blade protector for using it indoors. Although you could use it outdoors it would add to the weight and drag and also be more of a “sail” effect with wind.Keep in mind that these things become quite difficult when the wind gets above a certain speed or if there are gusts etc.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          Right, at current technology anyway. 🙂

  4. Laurent Eschenauer

    Woaw 🙂 Thanks for the mention. Happy hacking !

  5. jason wright

    personal injury and litigation galore

    1. fredwilson

      For sure. I wonder if we will need air traffic controllers for NYC air space

      1. jason wright

        no-fly zones and drone piloting licenses will be here very soon

        1. Matt A. Myers

          I imagine the first people to use them won’t do stupid shit though – would they?

          1. JimHirshfield


          2. Matt A. Myers


          3. kenberger

            you both have got to be exactly right.I love using these products, but it’s so clear that we’re very early on and this stuff *MUST* be getting regulation coming soon especially in urban places like NYC. The early people will keep things cool, but we’re not early anymore.Kind of feels like the 80’s when kids were taking Ecstasy* and everyone just knew that any day it would get “discovered” and regulated.*present company excluded of course.

          4. Matt A. Myers

            It would be best if regulation and conversation about it happened before bad things are happening often enough that regulations are quickly pushed through.And similarly I wonder if drones might be ban entirely. They could become pretty annoying, noise wise and otherwise.

          5. kenberger

            Agreed; wish I could get actively involved. Not quite sure how.Way beyond “annoying”, the danger element is fairly obvious with just a little imagination. Your proactive idea is a good one.

          6. van pelt

            “it’s so clear that we’re very early on…but we’re not early anymore.” Hey, I see what you did there!

          7. kenberger

            Glad *you* did, cuz not sure *I* did!

      2. Aaron Klein

        I’d like to believe that someone can write a peer-to-peer drone traffic control algo that can accomplish the same thing.The applications for this are really awesome to think about. “No need to FedEx the originals; I’ll just drone them over.”

          1. Aaron Klein

            Indeed.I predict something like that will be adapted for self driving cars. No need to rely solely on visual sensors.

          2. Cam MacRae

            Agreed. It’s already used in the mining industry to stop dozers and loaders bumping in to each other.

  6. laurie kalmanson


  7. Dave W Baldwin

    Love it!

  8. jason wright

    if one of those hovered over my back garden on a fine and sunny day (my designated air space) I’d try to bring it down. an invasion of my personal privacy,… and an annoying sound.Signed: ‘Mr. Grumps’.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Do we own our airspace though? I know technically for buildings there is ownership – so I guess maybe?What about if you have a fence that’s 9 feet high for privacy, and someone has one of these things with a camera pointing into your space? It wasn’t publicly accessible space before, but now is that a grey area?

      1. JimHirshfield

        No different than looking into your yard from neighbor’s second or third floor

        1. Matt A. Myers

          That really depends on how close buildings are …

          1. JimHirshfield

            No matter with a telephoto lens.

          2. Matt A. Myers

            That must be illegal though?

          3. JimHirshfield

            Speaking of surveillance, my son just got the “spy glasses” for his birthday. Camera and video shot from the bridge of the glasses… POV. 8 year old’s precursor to Google Glass.

          4. Matt A. Myers

            Sweet! I would have been up to no good as a child with these …

          5. JamesHRH

            Where did you get these Jim?

          6. JimHirshfield

            Amazon. See picture…

          7. JimHirshfield

            Picture not uploading. It’s called Real tech spy net stealth recording video glasses…. Made by Jakks Pacific, inc.

      2. Cam MacRae

        It’s not all that grey. There exists a reasonable expectation of privacy in the home. We actually have a tort of invasion of privacy here.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          So will you have the right to take down / disable a drone somehow that’s pointing its camera(s) into your home? 🙂

        2. dressler

          not so fast. “reasonable expectation of privacy” is the language of fourth amendment jurisprudence, not torts. for drones, i presume the leading case would be california vs. ciraolo which holds that aeriel surveillance of a defendant’s backyard does not constitute a search. thus: no expectation of privacy vis-a-vis drones. torts are state law so the outcome would vary by jurisdiction, but you are probably right. in addition to intrusion upon seclusion you would likely also have a technical trespass. The issue is the average person would have only minimal damages to seek; therefore the cost of bringing the lawsuit would be greater than any recovery. In conclusion: I’d be more afraid of Obama and his Justice Department flying drones in your ‘hood than your neighbor – and I voted for the guy!

          1. Cam MacRae

            Yep, it’s the language of your constitutional amendment, gleefully borrowed.

          2. dressler

            Not so fast, again! It’s the language of the Katz decision (Katz vs. United States), not the constitutional amendment.

          3. Cam MacRae

            Interesting. Makes it all the more shameless. (I must read your constitution one day).

          4. dressler

            Don’t worry, nobody ever reads the document, particularly these Patriots For Profit fucknuts who love to drape themselves in the flag/Constitution! (see: Swan, Andy; M, JL, et al.)

          5. ShanaC

            I do. And while I disagree with the way you phrased it, I agree with your constitutional right to express an opinion.And even though I disagree often with said people listed opinions, I do admire that they have a perspective and using a constitutional right to express it.Though I want a no politics day on this site…,sigh

          6. dressler

            I also admire your constitutional right to “be a professional centrist” and “keep your head in the sand.” One of my fave examples: Being a sophomore in high school and taking geometry. Every time I flunked a test, I would respond, “hey! it’s my constitutional right to say what I said on the exam, who are you to judge my answers!” I also took a jewish american studies course during undergrad at washington university. Loved using the “constitutional right” approach to deny the holocaust. Being dumb can be so fun!! and legally protected!!!!

          7. dressler

            What I really meant to say was: Swan flunked out of law school. Am I constitutionally protected to say that? Or did Swan flunk out before or after Con Law?

      3. ShanaC

        Depends where. In NYC airspace and land space are titled differently

        1. Matt A. Myers

          Ya, I imagine it’s different everywhere

      4. LE

        “What about if you have a fence that’s 9 feet high for privacy, and someone has one of these things with a camera pointing into your space?”What the law is and what someone will take the time and effort to prosecute and/or file civil charges are two different things.I have a neighbor that is running a business out of their house which is clearly not allowed. I’ve even gone to the trouble of buying a time lapse camera to document the activity because the local township simply (they know about this) doesn’t have the resources to send someone out and create a um “sting” operation. So even though the codes are written to prevent this behavior it still goes on.Entrepreneurs are good at this by the way. Knowing exactly where that line is and how to avoid getting snared by regulation.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          It’s all fun and games until it interferes with your own life …

          1. LE

            So I decided to take a break and go to the field next door to my office (spurred on by this post) and fly the chopper.Something wasn’t right in the controls but instead of stopping I decided to keep at it.Note the damage the wood blades (on a smaller size chopper) do to metal and the way the tail is bent as well).And this was on a grass field (note the grass stains on the tail rotor) not a parking lot. You could easily hurt someone with this on impact no question about it. Part of that danger (to yourself since you wouldn’t typically fly this with people standing to close) is what makes this fun. Not today though.

          2. Matt A. Myers


    2. pointsnfigures

      We had that exact same thing happen in the 1990’s. Kid across the golf course had planes with cameras mounted in them, He radio controlled them and had them hover over our backyard. Bugged the crap out of me. Was extremely tempted to put up some “anti-aircraft” fire with my Winchester. One day he crashed his plane which was good for us.At the same time this is cool and I can see a lot of uses for it in agriculture.

      1. LE

        ” He radio controlled them and had them hover over our backyard.”You can’t even imagine how difficult that was to do back then w/o the advanced electronics. I’m assuming that was a gas chopper?

        1. San Jacinto

          did your roommate’s sistar make $81 hourly back then??????

      2. jynucytymyro

        my roomate’s sister makes $81 hourly on the computer. She has been fired for ten months but last month her pay check was $18715 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on  Jive8.c­om

    3. Richard

      Love it. Don’t screw with my peace!

    4. MrThatsYe

      I personally think it’d just be cool, the Remote Control world is awesome.

    5. ShanaC

      I’m in your camp mr. Grumps

    6. JamesHRH

      Agreed. Loud.

  9. cdelrosso

    And when one of Chris Anderson’s drones, an Arducopter seems interesting

  10. JimHirshfield

    Do you have a backyard? I can imagine Gotham Gal getting pretty upset after a free lamps come crashing down.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Or flowers being accidentally pruned …

    2. fredwilson

      yes, we have a backyard

  11. Aaron Klein

    That is way cool. The version that comes with the Hellfire missiles is probably a tad more expensive. 😉

    1. JimHirshfield

      Ah geez. Ya had to go commando, didn’t ya? 😉

      1. Aaron Klein


  12. Luke Chamberlin

    I had a chance to play with one of these. There was a “combat mode” and you could fly around and shoot lasers and drop bombs on targets that appeared on the iPad. Was very cool.

  13. Mac

    Just too cool! Barking dogs in my neighborhood BEWARE. Revenge IS sweet.

  14. Chad Dickerson

    So glad you posted this — my wife and I saw a strange very small aircraft from our roof in Brooklyn last night and were wondering what it was. I think it was one of these. Now I want one!

    1. fredwilson

      you might also want this one too

      1. Mac

        Wow! No barking dog in my neighborhood is safe!Fred, is there a simple way of linking to a YouTube video from A VC?

        1. fredwilson

          not sure what exactly you are asking

          1. Guest

            How do i link to a video as you did above?

          2. fredwilson

            you mean embed a video?

          3. LE

            Hah! Make sure you keep your day job! Part of the skill needed to do “tech” support is figuring out what someone means by what they say because making no sense and stringing random non related words together (which wasn’t even the case here) is quite common. It’s almost comical the things people ask. Sometimes even 3 words like “it doesn’t work”. (What doesn’t work? Who are you?)Nothing also that the term “”embed a youtube video” is actually less common than “”link to a youtube video”.

          4. Mac

            How do I link to a video as you did above? sorry

  15. William Mougayar

    I’m curious to learn what you can or can’t do with or without learning js.node.I suspect there are prob turn-key apps that make it do things, like the video transmission over wi-fi.

  16. john

    SpaceX used one of these drones to capture video of its test rocket taking off and landing from above.

  17. Rob Hunter

    Fantastic – now my Father’s Day gift is solved. If only it was the one in May!

  18. Randy J Mitchell

    You could buy replacement parts, OR print them with a 3D Printer. Also the potential use cases of RC Drones with Glass are insane! Fred I’m so with you on the 14year old self re-emerging. Always wanted things like this growing up…

  19. kenberger

    Also worth checking out, this title says it all and I somewhat agree:”the-gps-enabled-dji-phantom-quadcopter-makes-the-ar-drone-look-like-a-toy”…An issue with Parrot is that they have some fantastic innovation, but not on the full stack. They are pretty bad at software UI. The fact that they now allow some hacking, such as via node.js, is promising.I like Laurent’s comment re arduino; in our office, we let devs do this kind of thing for fun on company time.

  20. John Revay

    I think this was the remote controlled copter in the Smurfs movie

  21. Brandon Burns

    I want 10 of those, and I want my neighbor to have 10 of those, and I want to equipe them with projectile paint bombs, and I want to go to war!

  22. andyidsinga

    want to see a video of that thing hauling around some shirts on hangers 🙂

  23. LE

    “I can feel my 14 year old self re-emerging.”Minibikes with briggs and stratton engines and centrifugal clutches. Remember taking one of those apart and seeing how it worked.

  24. nilb

    Do you know how much grams/LBS the drone can carry (and not be affected) What would be great with programming it that you will be able to compensate the height (assuming that you can change the height).I would think that the first thing here is to capture the route (and then the ability to change it).I hope this is a general trend in robo-* – the ability to code them (and might have later an eco-system for selling plugins). I guess the future is in image processing for any automatic future application in this area

  25. Dave W Baldwin

    Something to consider, you could use this in the TEALS program (not to start with) setting up a game with end goal and the issues affecting that goal.

  26. @billg

    Fred, check out MakerSwarm, who won a “Demo God” award two weeks ago at Demo Mobile.Makerswarm is a drop & drag authoring tool for connecting ‘connected devices’. In fact, their demo (see link below) shows Parrot Drones, Sphero Robotic Balls, and MetaWatch all working together. It’s a very effective demo hinting at how our connected future could be greatly simplified.

    1. JamesHRH

      @fredwilson when you say everyone should learn to code, I think of tools like this.There was a recent upset in the world of science, along the same lines –

  27. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Personal-injury/et al lawyers are going to love these…

  28. Steven Kane

    i want one! can it carry a water balloon?

  29. Mark Essel

    looks fun. but be careful – it can injure yourself or others pretty easily.

  30. Philip Brown

    Wow, I had no idea you could buys things like that, I love this whole movement of companies building products that encourage a community to hack them.The pace of innovation in this kind of technology seems to be so rapid when you can get “off the shelf” technology like an iPad

  31. sachmo

    People have not even begun to understand the role drones will play in daily life. Drones will be big… very big.