When is a drone not just a drone? When it is 54-propeller flying machine with a man aboard. A YouTube video uploaded by a British man who goes by his username gasturbine101 shows the drone-esque flying machine carrying a fully-grown male passenger as it lifts several feet off the ground and wobbles around in the air. This crazy flying machine is being called a “manned super drone” by its creators, who have also given it the more affectionate name “The Swarm” to the colony of tiny drones that keep it airborne.
Built by connecting 54 counter-rotational propellers in a hexagonal pattern, The Swarm is capable of lifting more than 350 pounds, according to the video. A seat for the operator is at the center of the swarm of drones and a protective polycarbonate dome, which looks something like a fancy umbrella, hides the operator’s face from view. The pilot controls the flying machine using a joystick but, as the video shows, that control appears to be tenuous.
The creators say The Swarm has a maximum flight time of about ten minutes and it can only lift off the ground up to about ten feet. The craft uses Hobbyking stabilizers, but they don’t really appear to be up to the task, making the ride look equal parts invigorating and terrifying. It’s scary enough to prompt one onlooker to shout “Be careful!” as the super drone nears its maximum height. Even so, it takes guts, tenacity, and a lot of free time to try something this genius: we know the Wright Brothers would be duly impressed.