Ascent AeroSystems has created a compact and portable drone designed for tough conditions
Ascent Aerosystems

A new drone design is trying to get off the ground with help from crowdfunding site Kickstarter. Ascent AeroSystems’ Sprite has done away with some drone design conventions, ditching fixed rotors and a typical flat airframe in favour of a compact cylindrical structure.

Powered by two rotors stacked on top of each other, the blades can fold in around the body of the drone when it’s not being flown, which its designers say makes it easier to carry around, particularly in rough terrain. The idea for the design came during a mountaineering expedition carried out by Arizona-based brothers Jon and Nate Meringer, who realised that an aerial perspective on their route would have made their approach to the climbing site a lot easier.

Made from polycarbonate, the Sprite has been designed to take rough treatment in its stride and seals away instrumentation in its waterproof casing. At 350mm long and weighing in at just over a kilo - with a battery and camera - the drone has been designed with portability as a core feature. A modular design means other components can be added as they are developed, or updated when technology advances. The team behind the Sprite is raising funds for its first production run.