No sooner has the unique Martin Jetpack come to market than another pretender pops their head up. Based in Indianapolis, a ‘drone’ capable of carrying a person, has just achieved its first manned lift-off. The purpose-built man-carrying quadcopter lifted off from its platform of shipping pallets with a brave volunteer on board whilst the inventor, Pete Bitar, operated the controls a few yards.
Pete went on to explain, ‘It was just the proof of the concept, a very short flight. But it was exciting, doing something that’s never been done before, with a design for production. The VertiPod IV tested here is a “mule,” with a lot of structure you won’t see in the production unit, which should be making demonstration flights at the big Oshkosh airshow in July. For example, the blue cage won’t be part of the package – just light legs to support the 120-pound machine as the pilot or passenger straps into the harness. The production machine will be a Hexacopter – six motors, six props, and more batteries; it will have a payload of 250 pounds. And it will be designed to fit into a big wheeled “suitcase,” making Professor Gadget green with envy.’
Flight time for a gross weight operation is in single-digit minutes for now, but extended flights are projected, dependent on the tradeoffs among battery quantity, payload, and the flight profile.
This machine will be versatile, as it can be flown from the harness or from another location; it can also be programmed to fly a fully-autonomous route, like a high-line “hobby drone.”
And all that for the bargain basement price of US$23,950, for the first 1000 VertiPod Hex customers!