Telepathically invading the consciousness of a flying crow, the way Bran Stark does to snoop on his enemies, may exist only in the realm of fantasy. But consumer drone maker Parrot has invented the next best thing: Over the weekend the company unveiled the Bebop, which can be tethered to an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.
While home-brew hackers have successfully combined the Rift with flying drones before (and companies like Fat Shark have experimented with first-person perspectives for years), as far as we can tell this is the first time Facebook’s $2 billion head unit will be integrated commercially.
You’ll still need a controller, but instead of watching both the drone and the video feed simultaneously, you’ll be able to fly the Bebop from a first-person POV and swivel your head to pan the camera. Imagine exploring hazardous sites from a safe distance, or getting a taste of what it’s like to be attacked by territorial birds.
The Bebop is also the company’s most advanced consumer drone yet. The rig includes a 14-megapixel fisheye camera with built-in image stabilization that records in full HD, all of which can be beamed to a phone or tablet via an app. The quadcopter is controllable up to 1.2 miles away via Wi-Fi, and has built-in GPS so you can find it later. (Drones crashes, let’s remember, are increasingly becoming a serious problem.) There is also an optional gadget called a Skycontroller that you can purchase separately, which allows you to maneuver the machine with the visual aid of an iPad.
Battery life could be a concern, however. The Bebop only gets about 12 minutes of flight time–tops.
Although a price and release date haven’t been set, Parrot CEO Henri Seydoux says it will be more expensive than its $300 AR.Drone (launched in 2010), and should be available for purchase in Q4.