Parrot drone gets GPS teardown
Hobbyists and commercial companies now use drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), for non-military purposes. As a result, the FAA struggles to take an official stance on the use of drones as the proliferation of the unmanned aircraft has resulted in some near-collisions and safety concerns. With Amazon and other companies testing delivery by drone options, one thing is clear: Commercial interest in drones is a new market waiting to explode.
Teardown.com analysts have recently performed a teardown of the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0—GPS Edition and found that the $349.99 drone has a BOM cost of $137, including the GPS Flight Recorder.
According to Parrot News, the drone's flight recorder:
...turns into a real black box and saves more than 350 parameters including the exact position of the quadricopter throughout each flight. When flying more than 6m high, this will also enhance its stabilisation. The collected data can be viewed in 3D and analysed through the AR.Drone Academy maps. Equipped with 4Go Flash memory, the GPS Flight Recorder Module can also record approximately two hours of HD video.
Here's a short summary of our what we found in our teardown.
Upon opening the drone, we found two main circuit boards, one for processing and communication and one for motion control.
Processing and communication board
Figure 1 below shows Parrot's use of Micron DDR2 256MB memory in a POP package over Texas Instrument's OMAP3630 Applications Processor. Other major ICs are Micron's 128MB flash memory, Texas Instruments Power Management + USB solution, and Atheros Low-Power 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi controller.
Figure 1 Micron DDR2 256MB memory
Motion control board
Also interfacing with the main board is the motion control board shown in Figure 2 below. The Drone uses the combination of Bosch BMA150 Accelerometer and BMP180 Barometric Pressure Sensor, Invensense IMU-3000 Gyro & Motion Processor, and Microchip PIC24HJ Microcontroller for Ultrasonic Sonar Control. Controlling the drone using Parrot's free app is certainly aided by the addition of the gyroscope and accelerometer. Flight stability provided by counter measures to the outputs of these sensors helps the drone to respond on its own to light bumps or windy conditions.
Figure 2: The Parrot drone's Motion Control Board
Sonar controller monitors altitude
Two Kobitone ultrasonic transducers (Figure 3), one 400SR (receiver) and one 400 ST (transmitter) work with the PIC24 Sonar Controller to monitor the AR 2.0 drone's flight altitude. There is also an AKM Semiconductor 3-Axis Compass on the Sonar board shown below in Figure 4.
Figure 3: Two Kobitone ultrasonic transducers
Figure 4: AKM Semiconductor 3-Axis Compass
GPS Flight Recorder Module
The included GPS Flight Recorder Module contains a Telit Wireless Solutions GPS receiver and also 4GB of user-accessible NAND flash for storing video and picture captures. The GPS module plugs into the AR.Drone's USB port. See Figures 5 and 6 below.
Figure 5: The GPS module plugs into the AR.Drone's USB port.
Figure 6: The GPS module plugs into the AR.Drone's USB port.
If you are interested in this teardown or a teardown of a specific device, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com.
- Joel Martin
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