The vehicle, which looks and sounds like a giant drone, seats just one person and is lifted by a series of 24 propellers mounted within a hexagonal frame. The landing gear consists of six inflated “landing balls” that provide shock absorption.
Designed by a team at the National University of Singapore, the vehicle is, however, only designed for indoor flight at this point.
“A common trope in popular science fiction is the projection of humans flying on our own – think the Jetsons, or even Back to the Future,” said Dr. Joerg Weigl, who supervised the project, in a statement on the university’s website. “NUS’ Snowstorm shows that a personal flying machine is a very real possibility, primarily as a means to fulfill our dreams of flying within a recreational setting.”
The electric-powered vehicle only offers about five minutes of flight time so, along with the indoor travel limitation, that makes the Snowstorm more of an interesting prototype rather than a real attempt at a usable vehicle.
There’s also the matter of flying with a large array of rapidly spinning blades above your head with no protection — a crash in this thing looks fairly dangerous. That might be why the video mostly focuses on flight with a test dummy, whereas the footage of flight with a real person only lasts about two seconds .
Nevertheless, the Snowstorm could inspire others to continue developing rotor blade-basedpersonal vehicles into something we can eventually use in the real world.