We have been entering a very cool new UAVs / Drone product from Pleiades called "Spiri" and their technical art director Caroline Glass prepared a Blog post for us to talk about the project. It's a very interesting platform that will push the industry toward the more "robotic" side of UAVs & Drones.
Hi to all my fellow robot lovers. I’m Caroline Glass, the Technical Art Director at Pleiades. My company makes a quadcopter robot called "Spiri" that is going to be available at RobotShop. My job is to develop exhibits for Spiri and to work in the lab alongside our engineers and scientists on inspiring new features for our robot. I am especially interested in human-machine interaction, finding new and intuitive ways for people to communicate with Spiri. Since I’ve been given the privilege to talk to you, I wanted to tell you what makes me so excited about our launch. I have been working with the core team for the past two and a half years on this, right from the start, and so it is an exciting time for me personally. But I also feel like Spiri is the kind of robot I always wanted to have around me when I was a kid. When we launch Spiri, you will be able to talk to it through a smart phone, whistle, or play music to it, and there will be a combination of pre-defined commands plus plenty of space for you to define your own. I’m also a musician, so I wanted to make sure Spiri can respond to musical and auditory cues. About a year ago, we began working on a controller based on MIDI-interpreted notes. Here’s a picture of me commanding Spiri with my English Horn.
We also wanted to make sure Spiri could handle gestures, and we have a few really exciting projects underway on gesture recognition. One exhibit we set up (at the Montreal Mini Maker Faire this past summer) gave kids a chance to go into a flight pen with Spiri and control it with a long wand.
I was surprised at how young some of the kids were who wanted to get in there with Spiri, and at how quickly they became comfortable with guiding it around. We’ve had some memorable misadventures as well. I was at a giant conference this past winter, where Spiri was being featured. But once we got there, suddenly nothing seemed to work. An entertainment industry person had come to see Spiri in action and just as she was arriving at our station, one of the new experimental batteries we were testing caught on fire! This was a fireball that lasted over a minute, attracting a baffled crowd until one of the conference organizers threw a plate on it (the food had just arrived). For the rest of the conference they gave us our very own security guard with a fire extinguisher ready. Don’t worry, though. Since then we’ve built a battery safety circuit that is unparalleled in quadcopters. Trial and error, trial and error... Our design has come a long way in these two and a half years. Here’s the front view.
Those two holes under the face are for a pair of high resolution video cameras. Spiri can film videos in 3D and can also use the stereoscopic effect to detect and avoid obstacles, altering its own path autonomously. When we launch, we are going to be providing several controllers as well as different options for programming Spiri. The controllers include mechanisms for direct remote control as well as waypoint navigation. To program Spiri, you will be able to use our API and your favorite programming language, or use our visual programming environment. I think the latter is especially suited to students and to people who know what they want Spiri to do, but not how to write optimal C++ code. We’re really happy to be in business with RobotShop. When you buy from here, you're going to have access to their great technical support, and your Spiri will be covered by a 2 year warranty. The Spiri team has so many awesome things in the pipeline, you’re going to find every few weeks that you wake up to a Spiri capable of a few new tricks. I'm excited to see what you will teach it.