It may not look like the jetpack science fiction has taught you to imagine, but you might soon have the power to glide gracefully over the landscape in your own personal flying machine. A team of students from the National University of Singapore have created a one-person helicopter capable of carrying one pilot weighing up to 70 kg (154 lbs) for five minutes.
Called the Snowstorm, the prototype device took a year to create. The small copter is as part of program studying leisurecraft, and was designed for recreation rather than as a practical means of transportation. Dr. Jeorg Weigi, one of the supervisors of the project, explained the inspiration for the project in a press release: “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. NUS’ Snowstorm shows that a personal flying machine is a very real possibility, primarily as a means to fulfil our dreams of flying within a recreational setting.”
The Snowstorm is built using a large, lightweight carbon fiber and aluminum frame in a hexagon shape supported by Kevlar rope. Each of the craft’s 24 motors drives a 76 centimeter, 2.2kW propeller. In the center of the craft, the pilot is secured by a five-point safety harness, with a six-legged seat equipped with inflatable balls to ensure a soft landing. Powering the craft are three rechargeable lithium batteries, which can each function independently in case of a malfunction.
Pilots can control the thrust, pitch, roll, and yaw of the machine, as well as selecting an automated flight mode so they can sit back and relax while the Snowstorm carries them away. A separate switch on the ground can be used to end the flight and ground the craft if the pilot loses control.
For now, the Snowstorm remains in development. The team at NUS is still fine-tuning the design, safety measures, and hardware to create the best experience possible for users. Students hope, however, that in the coming year the craft can come closer to commercial production.
Images via National University of Singapore