Futurism |New Autonomous Drones Are on Their Way, And They Can Carry Humans

In Brief
  • Drones are quickly becoming an indispensable part of our lives—whether it’s reconnaissance, aerial videography, or (so we’re told) package delivery. Soon, drone technology might evolve in a startlingly new direction: people moving.
  • Flyt Aerospace has begun development of a system that uses modular drone rotors to increase the lifting power of small, off-the-shelf drones. So far, their system can lift a person about two feet off the ground for ten minutes or so; in the future, they hope to accomplish a lot more.

Drone Power

Drones are fast becoming a ubiquitous part of our lives. From their early beginnings as top secret military technology, they are now used in a variety of ways—including photography, delivery, and even home and commercial security.

Now, a company wants to take them in an entirely new direction: personal transport. Flyt Aerospace is building drone systems that can transport humans and cargo, by joining multiple drone rotors to each other.

Drone delivery is usually confined to small cargo—in other words, small objects that fit inside a box. But the guys at Flyt want to scale that up, hoping eventually to transport objects as big as a human being.  If successful, the technology has the potential to transform the way we travel and even the very structure of our cities; it could relieve traffic congestion and revolutionize the logistics of transport and delivery.

Their most successful project, the Flyt 16, can do just that, by using 16 propellers powered by lithium batteries. The drone weighs ~159 kg (~350 lbs) fully loaded, and can fly about 10 minutes with a person in it (but that’s just 2-3 feet off the ground).

But it’s the goal that really shines here. Flyt wants to perfect the “flying” part of the drone, leaving the undercarriage to the user. That means building a working flight system that can operate with heavy loads, and developing harnesses that can be used for cargo, people, or whatever else you can imagine.

A New Age of Flight

Flyt is just one of the many new and fantastic ways people are redefining flight. Many different projects have resurrected the idea of a jetpack, leading to systems like the JB9 or the golf cart jetpack.

Also, Solar Impulse 2 has proven the viability of solar-powered aircraft. One day, we could very well find ourselves traveling in planes powered solely by the Sun’s energy, leading to craft that can stay aloft for years at a time. Not to mention that some are tricking out planes with robotic systems; one DARPA experiment is even testing robot co-pilots that can control aircraft on their own.

A new age of flight is dawning, and human travel is increasingly becoming 3-dimensional—even on the smallest scales of personal transport. We can’t wait to see what happens next!

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