When is a drone not exactly a drone? The new VertiPod, made by AirBuoyant, is an awkward answer to this modern paradox. It’s a remotely piloted quadcopter (i.e. a drone) that can carry a person (the exact opposite of unmanned). Besides for challenging the very definition of “drone”, VertiPod is a new entry into the increasingly poorly named world of jetpacks.
The test version of the VertiPod flew on April 7th, carrying 125-pound test occupant Stephen West a few feet off the ground while the vehicle was remotely piloted by its inventor, Pete Bitar. West joins Lady Gaga in the select ranks of “people carried by quadcopters,” but if VertiPod is successful, that list will grow. AirBuoyant plans to have a hexacopter version of the VertiPod flying before the end of April, and then wants to make hexacopter kits available for purchase at $23,950 a pop for the first 1000 people to join the beta testing. That’s almost $10,000 less than the median price of a new car. The jetpack itself weighs 120 pounds, and is designed to carry up to 250 pounds.
A major limitation for the VertiPod right now is flight time. AirBuoyant states that “current flight times are under 5 minutes, but with additional packs or lighter loads, that can be expanded.” So it’s not yet a dream vehicle for replacing private cars, but that doesn’t mean it won’t have applications. The Martin Jetpack, a ducted fan personal flying contraption, is expected to sell at around $150,000, so the VertiPod is a cheaper option for the budget-conscious jetpack buyer. And the remote operation of the VertiPod means it has potential rescue uses, like flying to someone in a precarious position and lifting them out.
Next for the makers of VertiPod is securing funding. They plan to launch a Kickstarter soon.
Watch the VertiPod take off below: