Aerial photo-and-video pros and enthusiasts have become accustomed to seeing quad- and octo-copters over the last few years, but rarely something as simple and durable as the new Sprite drone.
In their words: “Sprite™ is a sophisticated unmanned aerial vehicle. Fly autonomously under the guidance of its powerful autopilot, or manually using a conventional flight controller or Android mobile device.
Without requiring any further development, Sprite™ supports all the features of the latest Tower™, DroidPlanner™ and MissionPlanner™ flight control software, available for free for Android and the PC. These applications are open source platforms that have been in service for years by thousands of operators around the world. Features include:
- Create flights by simply drawing paths or dropping in waypoints from your Android tablet or smartphone
- Orbit objects or points of interest all while keeping Sprite’s HD camera tightly trained on the target
- Thoroughly map a target area with the Survey function
- The 3PV “Follow Me” feature sets and centers Sprite’s camera on a user while following their movement
- You can even control Sprite™ real-time with your tablet or smartphone!”
Sprite employs a simple push-button interface, which allows for autonomous operation without an external controller. The little UAV is able to function without a transmitter, tablet, or smartphone. Pre-loaded missions can be actuated with a simple press of a button and a hand launch.
The push button interface or a telemetry link gets the Sprite launch-ready in seconds, before it is deployed into a hover from the user’s hand. Once Sprite takes flight it can begin one of these pre-loaded misssions, follow a user or switch into any one of its available flight modes.
A unique feature to the Sprite are it’s retracting blades, which fold along the aircraft’s body when not in flight to form a tight, damage resistant package that won’t catch or snag as it’s stuffed into a backpack.
It also makes the Sprite land-safe in just about any environment. When the drone is at a safe altitude, a brake stops the rotors in less than half a second. In that little bit of time, the blades fold into their retracted position as the Sprite drops harmlessly to the ground.
Other features include:
- Fully autonomous autopilot with GPS, including waypoint navigation, “follow me”, and return to home
- 1080p full-HD video with stabilized gimbal
- Real-time telemetry
- First-Person-View (FPV) ready
- Fully enclosed, compact, ultra-durable
From the folks at Sprite: “Sprite’s modular design makes it easy to change payloads to suit each mission. Each module is stackable and quickly interchangeable. Optional components, accessories and parts will begin to be available for purchase on our website a few weeks before Sprite™ begins shipping in late 2015. Some of the things we’re working on include:
- GoPro™ compatible 2-axis stabilized gimbal (pitch and roll) – standard with Sprite
- Close-proximity obstacle-avoidance technology for operations in confined areas
- High-intensity LED light band for visibility and night operations”
While Sprite is aimed at enthusiasts, video and photo pros, adventurers and the like, Sprite also envisions other applications for the tough little UAV, such as:
- Emergency services and disaster recovery
- Search and rescue
- Security and law enforcement
- Environmental management and conservation
- Urban planning and engineering
- Offshore and overwater inspection
For more details about Sprite™, check out their website at www.ascentaerosystems.com.
The Sprite is priced at $799, and can be pre-ordered through their nearly-funded Kickstarter page.