Ever since we played with the original AR drone back at CES a few years ago, we’ve been keeping an eye on them. While we all agree there are better quadcopters out there, the price point for a ready-to-fly quadcopter of this size is really great with these.
When the fake video from FPS Russia of the weaponized drone made the rounds earlier this year, we were surprised at how people reacted. Anyone who has messed with quadcopters recognized it as fake right off the bat (not to mention the overly cliche fake russian character).
We won’t be adding a full fledged firearm to this. Mainly because it simply can’t lift the weight (There are ones that can, but we couldn’t justify the cost just for that). We do have some ideas though.
Lets go over the specs of the AR Drone 2.0 first.
The manufacturer is pretty good about sharing information. They have a decent breakdown of the specs as well as a full SDK available for writing apps for the AR drone.
As you can see, it has decent specs for the $299 price tag. This is partially due to the fact that it uses wi-fi for control. A decent radio system would greatly increase the distance (and probably response), but would have added another $100 to the price tag.
This isn’t a full review of the AR Drone. I didn’t run it through any tough tests, nor compare it to similar sized and outfitted competitors. I just pulled it out of the box, flew it around a bit, and started thinking about how best to make it preposterously dangerous.
During this time, I found that the Wi-Fi control system works fairly well. There’s not really a discernible lag between motions on the iPhone and motions on the drone. The drone was fairly stable both indoors and out, though it really didn’t like ceiling fans.
I started taping things to it to see how it would respond. As you get too much weight on it, you start to see that the stabilization system twitches attempting to keep it level. This happens long before it physically can’t lift things. It shouldn’t be an issue though as I only noticed it while attempting to hover in place. Battery life is greatly reduced though with any additional weight. This is a pain in the butt because the stock battery only offers roughly 8 min of un-weighted flight on a 1.5 hour charge.
Modifications already done
There is already a strong community of modders out there for the AR drone. Here are some common mods that I found while researching. I’ve included a few links to examples, but there are many more to be found.
- full radio conversion mod (two main versions people seem to be following)
- HD cameras
- performance part replacement (bearings, lighter bodies, etc)
- lights. People add tons of lights, both for performance and show.
- Dangerous fun (bottle rockets mainly, though I found one estes rocket and one mention of lasers.)
I’ve got some ideas. They’re not all very safe sounding, but don’t worry, I’ll take precautions to make sure no one gets hurt. They’re also not very practical, but sound really fun.
- Custom airsoft gun (multiple shots possible, c02 powered)
- audio bug deployment (small transmitter that could be dropped by drone)
- flame thrower
- POV light bar (need a super light weight design)
- laser for balloon popping (yes, indoors with proper eye protection).
- LED sticky/throwie delivery
- taser device (probably fry the drone when it hits something)
Let me know your ideas. Keep in mind that if I strip this thing down, I can really only carry 100-150 grams comfortably. Also keep in mind I don’t have the time or resources to carry out massive undertakings (sorry, no AI swarms, etc )