If you’re hankering to hurry up a Half Life-style future of eye-in-the-sky scanners keeping tabs on the comings and goings of human meat-bags you’re going to need a decent quadcopter to carry your dystopic dreams. Enter Spiri, a programmable quadcopter that’s been designed as a platform for airborne app creation. It’s also autonomous, meaning you don’t have to have mad piloting skills yourself just to test whether your neighbour spy app works. And even if your neighbour gets annoyed and throws a rock at it, Spiri can take a few knocks (thanks to reinforced carbon fiber ribbon protecting its body/blades).
The Linux-based quadcopter comes stuffed with sensors, cameras, wi-fi — i.e. the sorts of things you might want to power your apps — plus cloud support and development tools. One advantage of using Spiri vs a less developer-friendly quadcopter is that devs don’t have to worry about controlling and correcting its flight (which is powered by a separate processor) — that side is taken care of, say its creators. So you can concentrate on honing your computer vision algorithms to peek into Mr Trilby’s garden shed.
Spiri’s Canada-based creators are hoping to build a community of developers around the device, so have an API and are developing an app platform for distributing apps:
Our API and library of flight primitives and other basic commands allow developers to work on top of the main chip, which runs Ubuntu Linux with ROS (Robot Operating System). This is an open source platform supported by an active community of hobbyists, engineers and scientists. We are designing a simple script-calling environment for end use, as well as a native programming environment for app development. The Spiri Applications Platform, also under development, will give developers a way to get their apps out to the wider Spiri user base.
The quadcoptor’s main processor, which will run your apps, is a 1Ghz dual-core ARM Cortex A-9, giving this gizmo roughly as much power as a mid-range Android smartphone. Airborne apps that might make sense for Spiri could include urban mapping or building maintenance use-cases, say it’s creators. But really thinking up the cool software stuff is where you guys come in.
Spiri’s makers are seeking to raise $125,000 via Kickstarter campaign to get this gizmo off the ground. One Spiri quadcopter can be yours if you pledge $520 — or there’s a dev preview kit option, which lets developers get Spiri plus an early look at the development environment, for $575. They’re aiming to ship to backers next April.