Sprite may look like a Thermos but it's one of the most rugged drones yet

Ultra-portable drone close to Kickstarter funding

So far, flying drones have pretty much settled on one particular design; four rotor blades dotted around a main body housing the battery and a camera – in other words a quadrocopter. But one clever person has invented a new type of drone that looks very much like a flying Thermos flask.

In a break from the norm, US start-up Ascent Aerosystems has devised a two-propeller flying vehicle sporting a camera at the base.

Dubbed the Sprite drone, it was conceived by two brothers and aerospace engineers when trying to find the best way of climbing a rock in Arizona's Prescott National Forest. After trail and error in finding the right approach when they got to the top they had a realisation. From the summit of the rock, it was plain to see the best way up to the top. Had they a drone, the climb would have been much quicker.

A drone with a camera would have been useful, but too cumbersome and delicate to take to the backwoods. This set in motion their design for a drone that was both ultra-portable and durable.

After two years of development, the trio finally settled on a waterproof tubular design sporting co-axial rotors at the top and at the bottom, a 2-axis stabilised gimbal with a 1080p video camera.

The drone can be flown both manually with a remote control or Android App or set to fly autonomously to a preset course. Using the latter method, the drone can be programmed to go to certain waypoints or survey an area.

The body is modular, allowing the drone to be taken apart and have other parts added.

The engineers are hoping to get the drone to market via a Kickstarter campaign and have so far raised $173,000 towards a $200,000 goal.