Parrot AR.Drone: iPhone-controlled helicopter brings Airwolf to AR

The Parrot AR.Drone is a remote-controlled helicopter you fly with your iPhone, and it looks insanely fun thanks to the included AR games

Flora Graham

We've flown a £21,500 radio-controlled chopper and crashed a model P51-D Mustang on the streets of London, but throw in an iPhone and the ability to shoot at our friends, and we're insanely excited about the Parrot AR.Drone helicopter.

The AR.Drone connects to the iPhone or iPod touch over Wi-Fi, and uses the phone's accelerometer so you can fly it by moving the handset. The best bit: an on-board camera beams the bird's-eye view to your phone's screen.

It doesn't look that easy to fly, and the Wi-Fi connection means it will have limited range, so we'd worry about it losing connection and plunging into the Thames. But that's the risk you have to take when you're part of an elite helicopter fighting force -- and Parrot says the autopilot will bring the chopper to "a soft landing" if the connection is lost.

If you want to stick to the softly carpeted indoors, the helicopter also comes with a foam hull that surrounds the propellers to protect them from banging into walls, doorways and frightened pets.

To add another level of fun, augmented-reality games mean you can look through your phone's screen to see your AR.Drone shooting a robot, dodging lasers and dog-fighting with another chopper. Parrot has also released an API so other game developers can get in on the fun.

No news on how much the AR.Drone will cost when it comes out later this year, but you can sign up for email updates at the Parrot Web site.