It was bound to happen eventually. Flying commercial drones has become so widespread that the next logical step beyond using the pint-sized aircrafts to blow up warlords or deliver pizza is to actually ferry people with them. A team at the University of Singapore has created Snowstorm, the first drone capable of carrying and transporting a human passenger.
Of course, in order to accommodate a person, Snowstorm is quite a bit larger than your typical commercial drone. Equipped with a series of 24 propellers situated within a hexagonal frame and a landing gear with six inflated “landing balls” meant to absorb the shock of descent, Snowstorm seats a single person, acting as your very own personal aircraft. Here’s the catch: the Snowstorm prototype is thus far designed for indoor flight only.
Powered by electricity, Snowstorm can only accommodate up to five minutes of flight time, so even indoor flight and traveling is fairly limited at this point. Snowstorm proves that personal flying vehicles are very much a reality in 2015, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the technology powering it has advanced to the point where, say, drone travel is remotely close to eclipsing commercial air travel. You won’t be catching a drone home for the holidays any time soon.
Safety is also a concern with Snowstorm. A human passenger is situated directly under those 24 blades that spin rapidly in order to lift you up. That’s quite a precarious situation to put oneself in. And with pretty much no protection surrounding you, a crash from considerable height would probably be quite disastrous.
But hey, let’s give Snowstorm credit where credit is due. It’s a personal flying vehicle that actually works and can transport a person! Your move, flying cars and jet packs.