I am a student at the Oregon Institute of Technology working on a proposal for my Software Engineering Technology Bachelors' Program. My idea at this point is to buy an AR.Drone http://ardrone.parrot.com/parrot-ar-drone/usa/
and attach an Arduino pro mini http://www.sparkfun.com/products/11113
and some IR Rangefinders http://www.sparkfun.com/products/639
. Then I will program the arduino to interpret the data from the range finders and control the drone through it's wifi connection. Ideally my drone will start from a landed position when I turn it on and begin to fly forward until it gets to a set distance from an object/wall and turn then move until it finds another surface. This will repeat until the drone runs out of battery power. I will have a year to get this finished. Since basis of my senior project is for the software problems I will probably be getting help with the hardware installation since I haven't played with any of this stuff before. I am under the impression programming the Arduino Pro Mini will take a bit of extra hardware.
My questions are:
1. For the wifi connection which board would be the lightest and cheapest to connect over a short range wifi and still be able to send/receive data?
2. Is it possible to store enough program information on the Arduino Pro Mini to handle the sensor data and send a wifi signal? (It won't be storing any data at this point, but I may adjust project at a later date to possibly create a string that I can parse through after downloading it from the board for other uses.)
3. Would I need to have any other hardware to make this project workable?
4. I am open to suggestions, other ideas, and will do my best to respond to any questions for clarification ASAP.
I understand these are big questions and a bit open, however I hope that I have given enough (and that this is interesting enough) to warrant a bit of help for a newbie.