Today we are looking at the successful funding of a programmable flying robot that is anything but a drone. Patrick Edwards-Daugherty's team wanted $125,000 on Kickstarter to fund the development of Spiri, a Linux-powered robot that is both obedient and autonomous, and they ultimately received just shy of $130,000 in pledges. Just don't call their project a drone - you won't find the word anywhere on the page.


That's likely because drones are scary, and the Spiri's developers want it to be anything but. It isn't merely a robot, it's a social creature that's capable of scoping out the landscape, detecting land mines, watering plants, reporting the news, and saving lives. Check out the video below to hear the developers explain their vision themselves.

Spiri isn't smart enough to do all of those things out of the box, but there is one thing that it doesn't have to be taught, and that's how to fly. Spiri's flight programming is isolated from the user-facing Applications Platform, which is there to empower users to get the robot to do precisely what it is they want it to do, not wrestle with how to get the thing to get off the ground. All of this runs on top of Ubuntu Linux with ROS, a "Robot Operating System" supported by an active community, enabled by a 1GHz dual-core processor and 4GB of flash storage.


Here's where things get interesting. You can get your hands on a Spiri for less than the cost of an unsubsidized high-end smartphone. It costs just $520 to own your own robot ally, a possibility that would have had Star Wars fans foaming at the mouth mere decades ago. If this is too steep, you can still contribute $65 and get your hands on what is an admittedly awesome poster.


Robots won't ship until April 2014, but posters will be delivered just next month.

Spiri, a programmable flying robot

Bertel King, Jr.
Born and raised in the rural South, Bertel knows what it's like to live without 4G LTE - or 3G, for that matter. The only things he likes sweeter than his tea are his gadgets, and while few objects burn more than a metal phone on a summer day, he prefers them that way anyway.

  • Michał Droździewicz

    And they want $520 for this, when early baker of Ubuntu EDGE had to pay $620 for a phone. I dare to say this price is well overestimated.

    • Solban

      Kickstarter is not an online shop.

      • Michał Droździewicz

        Sure it's not and they can charge $10000 for the SPIRI, but I just voiced my opinion that the price is not reasonable.

        • Alex Lam

          For something capable of flying? Do you know how much a regular mini UAV costs?

          • Michał Droździewicz

            Paper plane is also capable of flying. There are a couple of other things that do, and they do not cost that much.

            Look here: http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__592__501__Multi_Rotors_Parts-RTF_PNF_ARF.html?gclid=CMfg4rDOwrkCFQy33godnFYALg

            I presume that unmanned thingy (being able to program it and stuff) makes it cost twenty times as much as regular ones?

            edit: my bad - these are mainly parts. I can't find the website with quadcopters that I once saw and which had reasonable prices on it. Maybe things changed - don't know. I only know that $520 seems to expensive for me.

            That's only my opinion, you are welcome to disagree :)

  • Chris

    Autonomous eh?

    How long before someone programs it to say, "Hey!", "Listen!", while following them round?

    I expect to see that at next year's Comicon.

    • Jaime

      Lol, I wish you I could upvote you a million times for the reference alone, and another million for the picture in my mind!

  • jason biggs

    That thing is loud !!... and i never saw it airborne for more than 3 seconds.

  • ari_free

    wow I need this! A personal UAV

    • New_Guy

      Capture-the-flag will never be the same!

  • valapsp

    Damn that was too noisy. why didn't they talk about the battery life?

    • New_Guy

      Fabricate a stable docking station and program it to dock itself to it when levels are low. Holy autonomy, Batman!

      And yes, that thing is noisy as hell...

  • CaibreGreyblade

    And AR.drone is almost half that price, second iteration hardware that can do as much for less. Also, is not as loud.

  • Steve McQueen

    The ultimate backyard supremacy device.