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Autonomous, beautiful Spiri quadrotor drone hits Kickstarter

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August 14, 2013

The Spiri quadrotor

The Spiri quadrotor

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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.

Spiri's bits and pieces
Spiri's bits and pieces

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.

Sources: Kickstarter, Pleiades

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life.   All articles by James Holloway
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11 Comments

Actually, I don't agree at all. Despite popular fads words, it IS a "quadrocopter". Or probably more accurate Latin: "quadricopter".

Anne Ominous
14th August, 2013 @ 04:30 pm PDT

Whatever people call them, the idea itself is genius! Capable of stable flight, programmable but autonomous, the idea demands to be brought to fruition. Now let's make the camera(s) Blutooth linked to home base - so you can see what it sees in real time - add a Glock and let's go hunting rabbits!

The Skud
14th August, 2013 @ 07:17 pm PDT

Ok. Some one develop the "Dog Walker" app... I want my dog to be able to trigger the Spiri into flight, and then fly a random pattern (above my dog's reach) around the yard and then come back to the landing pad.

Matthew Bailey
15th August, 2013 @ 09:52 am PDT

Close, but no cigar. Add real time stereo vision sent to a pair of goggles (with accelerometers so the pilot can use his head for remote pitch / roll / yaw control) and handheld roller dial (for direction / speed control). There, I just described the perfect Spiri. Run with it, fellas, I don't have the engineering skill or resources.

Fritz Menzel
15th August, 2013 @ 10:16 am PDT

Cool, I think we need more quadrocopters or whatever you might call them, in the marketplace. I bought another brand, the parrot AR and it broke pretty much on its second flight, it landed kinda roughly and that was it, dead. I ordered a replacement part over 100$ and it still didnt work, like 600$ down the drain.

However the Parrat AR you could fly from your smartphone it sent video from the copter to you so you could fly from cameras mounted on it.

It doesn't mention you being able to do that with this copter so i imagine its more designed to be set on specific flight paths or set to fly to certain specifications, ie fly to 1000 feet and do a 360 and fly back to start location.

Hopefully they will be able to bridge the gap between being light and stable, with being able to carry enough stuff on it to allow you to control it from a smartphone(heavier battery packs to power transmission perhaps)

Nathaneal Blemings
15th August, 2013 @ 11:47 am PDT

Picture yourself in Afghanistan taking incoming fire from a nearby ridge line. You could launch one of these drones then through your eyepiece mark where you want to copter to go to recon the whole area.

Matthew Jacobs
15th August, 2013 @ 12:23 pm PDT

@Nathaneal - That's kind of the whole point though. This quad may not ship with a remote so as part of the ecosystem controllers will evolve - Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, android, windows, apple, 2.4Ghz... You name it, it will come or so the theory goes.

I like the concept & design.

Now if we could remove the heart and transplant it in to bigger more powerful bodies as well which could handle professional camera gear then we have a scalable system as well. It sounds like should be a fairly easy task with the dedicated flight controller.

Congrats guys & I hope it goes well for you!

John NZ
15th August, 2013 @ 03:05 pm PDT

OR jut get a APM 2.6 and you can have your very own royalty free Quadcopter.... (some tuning required) , add as many cameras as your video system will handle.

MD
16th August, 2013 @ 04:04 am PDT

Quadcopters are awesome and there are plenty of ready to go solutions that you can purchase and start using today, no need to tie your money up until April 2014 with a kickstarter that may not deliver.

effie
16th August, 2013 @ 10:34 am PDT

Thanks for all the interest!

@Nathanial, I'm sorry your previous quad experiences weren't the best. You are correct, Spiri does come with a library of flight commands but Spiri can also be controlled via smartphone and video from the camera can stream to you directly. Spiri is also designed to carry up to 100g of additional sensors or cameras.

@John NZ. Spiri doesn't ship with a separate remote control because it doesn't require one for flight. You will however be able to control Spiri remotely with a mobile app which is free available to all Spiri users. You are right, additional controllers will evolve with the system!

Spiri
18th August, 2013 @ 09:04 am PDT

As an American citizen, I think we need to give some serious consideration and thought to the notion of allowing the import of autonomous, unmanned, aerial devices which have the potential to be controlled and monitored from organizations outside of the United States of America, whose political motives and affiliations may be questionable. While this device's poor quality in terms of flight time limits the capacity for it to represent a threat, in large numbers, it would be problematic if, for instance, this group was able to commandeer the devices and crash them at their whim.

Rob Lindman
3rd July, 2014 @ 11:43 am PDT
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