In late 2010 my brother and I moved from Massachusetts to Arizona to take engineering jobs with a big aerospace company near Phoenix. As avid outdoorsman, we had always enjoyed New England's beautiful forests and top-notch rock climbing destinations. The idea of climbing the craggy rocks of the desert southwest was really appealing. One particular destination that caught our attention was Granite Mountain, a five-hundred foot cliff in the heart of the Prescott National Forest.
As many climbers know, when approaching the bottom of a cliff there comes a time when you must leave the well-marked hiking paths and pick your way along confusing and poorly marked access trails that lead to the base of your climb. Three times over the course of a month we started up what we thought was the correct path to the base of Granite Mountain only to be forced to backtrack when the trail hit a dead end. We finally found the right path on the fourth attempt, and once at the top we had a realization: Looking down over the approach from 500 feet above, the access trail was obvious.
On the walk back we talked about how helpful an aerial perspective would have been. We considered a quadcopter drone with a camera, but they were too bulky and too fragile for the backcountry. We needed an aerial imaging platform that was compact and tough enough to be stuffed in an equipment bag with rope and water bottles. It needed to be more portable, more rugged, and easier to fly.
As engineers, we started drawing up plans. Over the next two years we went through dozens of designs, and even developed our own flight guidance controller from scratch. But it seemed that for every answer we found, two new questions were raised. Finally, in early 2014 we were able to consistently maintain a stable hover.
We transitioned the mechanics from a test bed to a workable airframe and integrated GPS sensors for autonomous flight. We started to circulate the concept on a few blogs dedicated to drone enthusiasts, and the level of interest expressed from all corners of the globe within just a few days blew us away. We began to think that maybe we were on to something.
Along the way we had gotten to know Peter, and together we decided that we’d make a great team to develop the concept and bring it to market. Sprite was launched on Kickstarter in May of 2015, and the rest is history.
We’ve done a lot to develop the design, and we’re convinced we have the best design for working UAVs available anywhere. Check out the video on this page, which highlights some of the development flights we did on early designs.
Thanks for your interest!