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Sprite is a completely different kind of unmanned aerial vehicle. Portable, rugged, powerful, and easy to use.  A tool, not a toy.
Sprite is a completely different kind of unmanned aerial vehicle. Portable, rugged, powerful, and easy to use.  A tool, not a toy.
Sprite is a completely different kind of unmanned aerial vehicle. Portable, rugged, powerful, and easy to use. A tool, not a toy.
532 backers pledged $406,061 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Sprite: portable and rugged. A totally different drone.

$406,061

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When we set out to design a new small unmanned aerial vehicle, we were completely focused on two things: portability and durability. That led us to something completely different. 

Introducing Sprite™

The world's most portable and rugged unmanned aerial vehicle

Whether you’re an active outdoor enthusiast, a serious professional photographer or a commercial operator who just needs to get a job done, Sprite™ is as portable and rugged as you are.

  • Enclosed, compact, rugged and water resistant airframe
  • Well-proven, fully autonomous autopilot with GPS and inflight telemetry
  • Wide range of sophisticated autonomous flight modes including waypoint navigation and “follow me”
  • 1080P high-definition video with 2-axis stabilized gimbal
  • Push-button interface lets you leave your tablet computer or RC radio at home
  • Range of up to 4 miles (more than 6km), depending on mission, equipment and environment
  • FPV (First-Person-View) ready

How Sprite Works

A tool, not a toy

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's simple push-button interface also allows for autonomous operation without an external controller.  Perfect for wet or rugged adventures where a conventional transmitter, tablet computer or smartphone are just not practical, Sprite™ can execute preloaded autonomous missions with a simple press of a button and a hand launch. 

Using the push button interface or a telemetry link, Sprite™ can be ready for launch in seconds then deployed into a hover from your hand. Once airborne, it's free to start an autonomous mission, follow you or switch into any one of its available flight modes.

Designed for Anywhere

Sprite's retracting blades fold along the 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.

No landing zone?  No problem.

Sprite™ doesn't care if it's flying over a field of boulders, a shrub-laced desert or a soggy marsh.  Landing is simple, regardless of what's below it.  At a safe altitude, a brake stops the rotors in less than 0.5 second.  This allows the blades to fold into their retracted position as the Sprite topples harmlessly to the ground.  For once, a bush is an attractive landing spot!

Ready for Any Mission

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) NOW STANDARD!
  • Close-proximity obstacle-avoidance technology for operations in confined areas
  • High-intensity LED light band for visibility and night operations

Sprite™ is ideal for outdoor adventurers, professional photographers, and a wide range of special missions in rugged, harsh environments including:

  • 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™, and about us, please explore our website at www.ascentaerosystems.com.

Sprite™:  A tool, not a toy

We've designed Sprite™ to be a highly portable and rugged small unmanned aerial vehicle.  See how it stacks up to other popular models:

Rewards

We're offering Sprite™ in two simple packages so you can choose the one that's right for you.  Each is available with the VISION first person view (FPV) option.

The minimum specifications for the camera will be 1080p video @30FPS or 720p @60FPS, and still images at 2304x1536, 1920x1080, or 1280x720.  Note that FPV image is not in high definition, as this technology is just emerging and is prohibitively expensive. 

Our Next Steps

We've done a lot to get Sprite™ where it is today, and over the next few months we'll be tackling tasks in three parallel workstreams, design, development and production. With the major development work behind us, over the next six weeks we're going to be focused on things like improvements to the camera gimbal and extending the flight endurance, which is currently around 12 minutes.  By optimizing the rotor blades, motors and gearing we're confident that we can extend that significantly.  After that, we're moving into beta testing, tooling for production, and if all is according to plan, development of additional accessories.

Here's a very high level summary:

About Us

Sprite is the first product from Ascent AeroSystems, which is Jon, Nate and Peter.  Between the three of us, we've got almost forty years of experience in aerospace engineering, business, and R/C modeling.  We're fueled by a collective passion for the outdoors, and by our desire to make a product that really can transform how small unmanned aerial vehicles are used.  For more about us, please click on our Kickstarter profile, find us on LinkedIn, or visit our website www.ascentaerosystems.com for the backstory that led to Sprite.

Press

We started as Backcountry Drones back in 2014, and since then we've been delighted to be mentioned by a number of great publications and websites.

Risks and challenges

We've watched very carefully as a number of other small unmanned aerial vehicle projects have come up on Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites over the last two years or so, and we've learned a lot.

First, we've waited until Sprite™ was really ready before launching our campaign. Everything that you see about Sprite™, including the website, the images and the videos, is 100% genuine and unenhanced. No strings, no wires, no post-processing to remove anything. No slick video. The only computer generated renderings you'll see are of the accessories we're working to add to Sprite™ in the future, and we've deliberately made it very obvious that they're renderings.

Second, we've used "commercial, off the shelf" (COTS) products for many of Sprite's electronic components and subsystems. This significantly reduces risk in design, development, production and operation. The flight controller and autopilot module is an APM-compatible system that's well-proven in dozens of other existing vehicle designs and tens of thousands of flight hours. The autonomous flight modes it provides have been demonstrated countless times. We're sourcing those, as well as the GPS and telemetry modules, speed controllers and motors, from experienced manufacturers, and no additional electronic hardware development is necessary. Even the batteries are standard LiPos. If you have an 11.1v battery of the same dimensions, it will work with Sprite™.

But we recognize that projects like this inevitably will have surprises. Suppliers may be late, or component designs that worked well in development may need to be revised after more extensive field testing. We're working with an outstanding design and manufacturing firm here in the United States in the development of our airframe molds, and they've been invaluable as we've optimized them for "ease of manufacturing". That means better, more reliable parts when they get to you.

Among us, we have decades of experience in engineering, new product development, R/C modeling and business, and together with our extensive network of partners and supporters, we're confident that we'll be able to overcome surprises.

But regardless, we know that communication is the key to our success, and our future depends on how well we meet your expectations. Whatever happens, our commitment to you is that we will post an update at least once per week, beginning the week our campaign closes. From each of us, THANK YOU for your confidence, your trust and your support.

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    Calling our backers with a 3D printer! Get this 3D print file that will give you your very own miniature desktop model of Sprite. It will be about 4 inches (10cm) tall and feature rotating rotors. Just to be clear...this Reward is for a digital print file, not for a physical model! : ) Feel free to print as many as you want and send them to your friends!

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    31 backers
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Make Sprite do what you want it to do...whatever that is. The Payload Developer Kit includes all of the digital files you'll need to design and print a custom bulkhead for Sprite. It will attach to the bottom of the Main Module, interface with other modules like the optional Light Ring and LaunchPod landing gear, and provide a watertight seal to keep things dry inside. There's also an accommodation for power and data connections. Any development done with the PDK needs to be done under a non-commercial, open source license. We'll ask you to post your designs to Ascent's website for distribution to other members of the Sprite community to use.

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    5 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    Commemorate our launch with Ascent's Kickstarter Launch T-Shirt. Featuring Sprite and Ascent AeroSystem's logo. Color: Navy. Available in S, M, L, XL, and XXL.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    27 backers
    $
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    A quality zippered hoodie sweatshirt with Ascent AeroSystem's logo. Color: Charcoal Grey. Available in S, M, L, XL and XXL.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    20 backers
    $
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $799 or more About $799

    SPRITE™: THE PATHFINDER PACKAGE

    Your very own Sprite™, the most portable, rugged sUAV in the world. Sprite™ will arrive tested and ready to fly using your own compatible Android tablet or smartphone, or a PC. You'll just need to download the free DroidPlanner or MissionPlanner software to program autonomous flights, or to fly manually in real-time. Please note that a LiPo charger is needed before you can fly Sprite™.

    A conventional R/C transmitter is not necessary, and one is not included in this reward. If you would like to fly Sprite using a traditional R/C transmitter, please consider getting the EXPLORER reward package below.

    Sprite™ is FPV (First Person View) ready!

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    110 backers
    $
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $949 or more About $949

    SPRITE™: THE EXPLORER PACKAGE

    Your very own Sprite™, the most portable, rugged sUAV in the world. Sprite™ will arrive tested and ready to fly using your own compatible Android tablet or smartphone, a PC, or with the included R/C transmitter. You'll just need to download the free DroidPlanner or MissionPlanner software to program autonomous flights.

    A conventional R/C transmitter is also included in this reward along with an onboard receiver. A charger is also included for the LiPo flight batteries.

    Sprite™ is FPV (First Person View) ready!

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    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    140 backers
    $
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,149 or more About $1,149

    SPRITE™: THE PATHFINDER VISION PACKAGE

    Your very own Sprite™, the most portable, rugged sUAV in the world...enhanced with First Person View (FPV) technology. That includes a video transmitter connected to the onboard camera, and a receiver/monitor to view Sprite’s perspective in real-time.

    Sprite™ will arrive tested and ready to fly using your own compatible Android tablet or smartphone, or a PC. You'll just need to download the free DroidPlanner or MissionPlanner software to program autonomous flights, or to fly manually in real-time. Please note that a LiPo charger is needed before you can fly Sprite™.

    A conventional R/C transmitter is not necessary, and one is not included in this reward. If you would like to fly Sprite using a traditional R/C transmitter, please consider getting the EXPLORER reward package below.

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    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    17 backers
    $
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,299 or more About $1,299

    SPRITE™: THE EXPLORER VISION PACKAGE

    Your very own Sprite™, the most portable, rugged sUAV in the world. ...enhanced with First Person View (FPV) technology. That includes a video transmitter connected to the onboard camera, and a receiver/monitor to view Sprite’s perspective in real-time.

    Sprite™ will arrive tested and ready to fly using your own compatible Android tablet or smartphone, a PC, or with the included R/C transmitter. You'll just need to download the free DroidPlanner or MissionPlanner software to program autonomous flights.

    A conventional R/C transmitter is also included in this reward along with an onboard receiver. A charger is also included for the LiPo flight batteries.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    105 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

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Funding period

- (30 days)