Autonomous, beautiful Spiri quadrotor drone hits Kickstarter
You say quadcopter, I say quadrotor, let's just agree that under no circumstances is it quadrocopter. Whatever they're called, here's another one. It's called Spiri, it's designed to be rather more fun than your average drone, and is designed to be both programmable and capable of running downloaded apps. After 13 months of development Canadian quadcopticist Patrick Edwards-Daugherty has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help bring it to market.
At the heart of Spiri is a 1 GHz dual-core Cortex-A9 chip running Robot Operating System on top of an Ubuntu Linux installation. To make it as versatile yet user friendly as possible, Pleiades, the company behind Spiri, is hoping that an app ecosystem will grow up around the aircraft. For that reason a programming environment to develop apps is also in the works, though a simpler scripting environment will also be available to end users that want to tinker with their Spiris themselves.
Spiri isn't lacking when it comes to gadgetry. As you'd hope, it's equipped with accelerometers, a gyroscope, and GPS, but there's also a magnetometer, downward-facing acoustic sensor, a forward-facing HD video camera, a downward-facing camera, and a range finder. It also has a USB connection to attach additional gear.
Once programmed or loaded with an app, the UAV is designed to be fully autonomous, and is able to fly out of the range of Wi-Fi. Should the 1,300-mAh battery run low on charge, Spiri knows to make its way back to its perch, which recharges the battery with inductive charging. The full autonomy presents tantalizing possibilities for a swarm of Siris working in concert.
To enhance the robustness of the craft, a carbon fiber ribbon has been designed to protect the rotors and electronics in the event of a crash landing. Despite that, and as quadrotors go, Spiri is really rather beautiful.
If successfully funded, a pledge of US$520 should secure backers a first-generation Spiri, which should ship in April if all goes to plan. You can see the Kickstarter pitch below.