There's nothing like gazing upon the Rockies or looking out into a sunkissed desert to remind you that nature is beautiful -- or that you're a puny speck of carbon aimlessly drifting through the universe. Now, there's a Kickstarted drone specially-designed to help capture those landscapes.
Called Sprite, it's an unmanned aerial vehicle you can throw in your rucksack and bust out later for mid-expedition filming. Just let it loose and into the sky: it flies with four rotors, shooting hi-def 1080p vids. You can program 3D flight paths with its autopilot software (preordaining its speed and movements), fly it yourself with RC, or have it automatically tail you in the wilderness. It's like a hiking buddy -- except it's battery-powered and doesn't complain about blisters or eat your trail mix.
It's also modular, so you can customise it with different cameras or sensors as new accessories roll out. The campaign page says prototypes can handle wind speeds of 25 miles per hour.
The rugged, hovering robo-camera is a project from Ascent AeroSystems, a drone manufacturer. Sprite measures 33cm long and weighs just over a kilo, not much heavier than a filled-to-the-brim Thermos. Looks like the basic model will be $US800, but the price will hit $US1300 if you want to throw in the First Person View function.
Ascent is primarily pitching Sprite as an adventuring accoutrement, but it's also saying Sprite has potential for search-and-rescue, law enforcement, environment inspection, and the other situations where a small, light, photo-ready drone would be useful.
The Kickstarter campaign passed its $US200,000 goal by almost half that amount and has less than a week left. We're interested to see where things go -- like if the Coca-Cola company requests a name-change.