Parrot AR Drone – erratic behaviour

AR.Drone – user upload (video summary)

This video has been uploaded to by user MrBonodrone. Here is a summary of the video in their own words:

Erratic behaviour of my AR Drone. You will see in the video that I just pressed the “take off” button and did not control the drone at any point. I also pressed the “flat trim” button before the flight like I do before every flight. Sorry about the picture quality it was taken from the record facility of my Sony Cybershot camera.

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  • MrBonodrone

    Need an iPhone? Compare prices here

    @bongbeltran The room was not that dark. The recorder I used was a record function of a Sony cyber shot camera. I could believe how dark the film looked. It you look at the part where I put the camera on the Iphone you will see the image of what the AR Drone sees and the room is quite bright!

  • bongbeltran

    Download Free Flight for the Parrot AR.Drone

    its the box that causing it.. and low light in the room causing it to drift away..

  • WillemsoordRC

    Drone Captain – an iPhone, iPad and iPod touch app for the Parrot AR.drone

    Perhaps turn up the lighting, and remove the box (height difference). And try to get any other RC heli to do that, it’s impossible…

  • Bryan Jones

    I’ve seen mine do the same thing. From what I’ve read and what I understand the Drone is best suited to a VERY large open space and zero wind. I think this is why when we see demo video’s of the Drone doing nifty things they’re almost always in an aircraft hanger (is it so they have plenty of shot’s of real aircraft in the back ground? or a very large open space with zero wind? The latter me thinks).

    Anyway, back to what I think is happening. First off the Drone is an amazing piece of kit, I don’t mean in a cool toy way (although it is) but in a “what its doing” kind of way. The on board computer is basically doing its best to keep level flight, so it concentrates on all the data its got. Mostly I get the impression from the on board giro’s. So, if the Drone feels a tilt in any direction it will correct for this by pushing in the opposite direction. This is where you run into trouble / see it best doing this outside. A slight breeze and the Drone will effectively “fight” the breeze to keep horizontal. It doesn’t really know its location in space so its never going to stay on the one spot. It can use sonar to work out its height, but sonar is also very unpredictable as it bounces lots. So any irregularities in the surface below, objects, dust, bits or paper etc and that will throw off the sonar too.
    As for the on board camera’s, I’m not so sure that these are used for navigation, and if they are then its going to be real basic stuff. After all its a tiny motherboard it has and its a really cheap price for the Drone so we can’t expect facial recognition or the like’s from the camera’s. At best a shape with solid definition (the “H” on the box?) maybe.

    To some up, its the wind that messes with the Drone. From your video that was a really small room for the Drone. The Drone is doing its best to stay steady and the slightest draft and the Drone will try and fight that. Now the Drone itself creates a heck of a down draft. Hugh. It needs it to lift itself off. Now imaging you can see that wind, its going to get pushed down, out to the walls, curl up the side of the walls and straight back at the Drone because of the size of the room. So the Drone is going to feel this draft and begin pushing against it.

    I suspect the Drone is only using sonar and giro’s so it will fight the wind by tilting and then adjust the hight because of the sonar, so effectively it will still drift around the room while doing all of this correction. The closer it gets to the wall the more down draft it will encounter and the harder it will push. The Drone will push and push and eventually make contact with the wall, then because of its “come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough” attitude it goes into a maximum tilt and push and end’s up bouncing backwards, where while its still trying to get its bearings and course correct it meets another wall and so does the same, which given the close space its in ends up with a pinball effect bouncing off each wall until it hits one of them just hard enough to open the hull a cause an emergency shutdown as in your video.

    I’m a technical specialist, I work with computers and cutting edge IT kit all day long, I understand how they work and the limitations they have, but like many other’s I still didn’t foresee the “pinball” issue when I bought the Drone…..although (unless I’m completely barking up the wrong tree with my explanation) having used the Drone now I understand its pitfalls.

    ….I’m currently trying to convince the family to move into an aircraft hanger on the grounds that they’ll all enjoy the extra space and I can entertain everyone with a Drone that hovers without going crazy………for about 10 minutes until the battery is dead 🙂