Students at the National University of Singapore are working on a personal aerial vehicle to let anyone be able to fly themselves. Roselle Chen reports.
Ever dreamed of taking flight in your own giant drone? This seemingly crazy aspiration is tantalizingly close to realization. A team of eight engineering students from the National University of Singapore (NUS) took a year to build this personal aerial vehicle, dubbed 'Snowstorm.' Due to legal requirements, the demonstration took place indoors. Project brainchild Joerg Weigl said he wants 'Snowstorm' to help people realize their dreams of flying. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JOERG WEIGL, NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE DESIGN-CENTRIC PROGRAM LECTURER AND PROJECT SUPERVISOR, SAYING: "Because flying is now a community. People can now fly with a jetliner, but the feeling of flying got lost on the way. So 'Snowstorm' is our multi-copter where you can get the feeling of flying back, the feeling of flying to anybody who wants to fly." 'Snowstorm' can be controlled by the person flying it, or remotely. It's environmentally-friendly too, as three rechargeable lithium batteries get their energy from solar power. The current prototype can support 70 kilograms (154 lb.) for a flight time of about five minutes and for safety, the seat is installed with a five-point harness that secures the pilot to the center of the machine. Team member, student Wang Yuyao, says 'Snowstorm' remains a work in progress. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING STUDENT, WANG YUYAO, SAYING: "Well, the next step is, from an electrical standpoint, it's definitely to have more fail-safes, better stability and easier control for the pilot, and from the mechanical side of the staff, it's definitely more structural stability, as well as maybe even more power. We can always add more motors to lift a heavier person." Rather than a mode of transportation, the team said the flying machine will be more for personal recreational use. They say Snowstorm could be commercialized before too long....and insist the device is no flight of fancy.