May 7th, 2011
07:32 PM ET

iPad-controlled drone captures Tuscaloosa storm damage

In the week since a series of powerful storms and tornadoes devastated Tuscaloosa, Alabama, most of the images we've seen have been taken at ground level.

But CNN's Aaron Brodie caught a bird's-eye view using the Parrot AR.Drone, a quadricopter that can be controlled using an iPad or an iPhone. He said he got the idea to experiment with the relatively new technology about a year ago, and finally got the chance to test it out Friday above the ruins of Alberta, a neighborhood in Tuscaloosa.

"It's a bit challenging to fly, but when you get the hang of it you can get some nice aerial footage out of it," Brodie says.

The electronic aircraft retails for about $300 and comes equipped with two cameras, one facing forward and one facing down. Not satisfied with the quality of the video for broadcast purposes, Brodie rigged a GoPro HD camera to the drone, bringing the total cost of the outfit to about $550.

"This is really at the low end of what's possible," he says. "There's much more sophisticated drone technology out there that is now available to really anybody, including us in the news media, and I think this is going to continue to provide a whole new perspective on things."

More than 175 tornadoes hit the South and the Midwest April 27 to 28, weather officials said. The twisters caused at least 327 deaths, 249 of which were in Alabama. In Tuscaloosa, a massive tornado cut a 5.9-mile path of destruction, damaging or destroying more than 5,700 structures and affecting an estimated 13,700 people who lived and worked there, a spokeswoman said.

Post by:
Filed under: Alabama • Technology • Tornadoes • Weather
soundoff (79 Responses)
  1. Joey

    I reread what I said to you. It was responding to your saying about not complaining.
    My sentence could be read to imply that you did complain, but that was not my intention.
    My intention was agreement with you.

    May 8, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joey

    Yes, I did. Are you angry? I explained my intention directly above this.

    May 8, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joey

    That's right. I remember now your saying that the wrong people were blamed.
    I'm sorry.

    May 8, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy


    I was posting on another thread. Sorry I didn't get back to you. I can never be mad at *you*, Pal Joey. (Hope you don't mind the nickname. It's meant affectionately, trust me!)

    May 8, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joey

    When you disappered I thought I had suffered another Troll tease.
    I'd made dinner and it's getting cold: was on phone with old friend I seldom see.
    Sometimes it's hard to tell if a post under Joey is real or fake.

    May 8, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. banasy

    I know, Joey, I know.

    May 8, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Joey

    My doo doo has a funny taste.

    May 9, 2011 at 2:07 am | Report abuse |
  8. Joey

    @ Troll:
    Good morning. You have become psychotic (unable to differentiate between internal and external stimuli):
    it was you who tasted my feces, not I.

    May 9, 2011 at 7:26 am | Report abuse |
  9. Parrot AR.Drone


    May 10, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  10. Da Ve M R

    The nine.several inch android product is probably the top gadgets on any forum as a result of recognized energy and the in fact features. Although the brand is not yet while ...the ar drone

    March 15, 2012 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  11. -agm

    Since the ARdrine cannot record images it captures ( apple doesn't allow it ) how would anyone get footage ?

    I'm surprised the parrot people are showing off this article and stating on their question and answer page that in fact it's not possible to do what is mentioned in the article, in not so clear words but it does say you cannot record or add any additional weight / fitments as it would risk dis balancing the device.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:54 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5