The AR.Drone has delighted us for months. Controlled via an iPhone, the device reminds us of those little RC choppers we had, and promptly lost in a gust of wind, when we were kiddies. Except, you know, this one is harder to lose, slightly more expensive and is actually a quadricopter.
As is the case with most gadgets, there's more to the drone than meets the eye, and you never really know a device until you know what makes it tick. The iFixit team has had apparently had an AR.Drone on the premises for a while and, lucky for us, they've finally managed tear themselves away from it for long enough to perform a teardown.
Given that it's quite a unique product, we were surprised to learn that the AR.Drone scored a 9/10 on iFixit's repairability scale. Surprised but pleased, considering it's a very crashable toy. But is toy the wrong word to use for a product like this? Apparently so.
"It's not just a toy," says iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens. "It's a phenomenal piece of engineering that manages to solve some very difficult software problems in order to take flight. Hidden beneath the foam fascia lies some very sophisticated electronics, all of which makes flying the quadricopter very seamless."
The AR.Drone's sophisticated innards include four propeller assemblies (propeller blade, gear, motor and motor controller board) designed by a team of engineers that won a micro-drone design contest put on by the French Army; four brushless motors running at 28,000 RPM; two large mesh cylinders, which make up the ultrasound altimeter and stabilize the quadricopter within 6 meters of the ground; a Parrot 6 ARM9 468 MHz processor; ROCm Atheros AR6102G-BM2D b/g Wi-Fi module; a couple of Micron chips; and a vertical camera.