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Design

Will This Floating Platform Be The World's Smallest Aircraft?

Its creator calls the AirBoard, "the Segway of airplanes."

by Beckett Mufson
09 February 2015, 6:30pm

Images courtesy Elviss Straupenieks

Inventor Elviss Straupenieks wants you to be able to fly to work every morning, and has bet the last two years of his life on making it a reality. Today he launches an IndieGoGo campaign for the AirBoard, a personal flying machine that looks like a cross between a drone and a Trikke, and is based on a combination of 50's military experiments and modern computer processing.

The AirBoard has four spinning rotors like the average quadcopter, but at 40" x 30", is large enough for a person to stand on. Steering is intuitive: lean forward to go forward, lean right to go right, etc. Straupenieks himself calls it the "Segway of Airplanes." Its concept is based on designs from the Hiller VZ-1 Pawnee, which was basically a helicopter rotor with a platform on top. The idea never took off because of the difficulty and danger it presented to pilots, who were essentially standing over giant blenders.

Straupenieks' design is a lot less likely to give you a haircut, though, enclosing its rotors in a 3D-printed body, and using the modern innovations of GPS, digital compass, gyroscope, and accelerometer, to smooth out the piloting process. An accompanying app would allow the AirBoard to maintain a constant height, as well as check its speed and location. "Because of this intelligent design, AirBoard is more than just scaled quadcopter," Straupenieks tells The Creators Project. "It is a new category of aircraft. An aircraft you could place in your house or even in car’s trunk."

The inventor also says that AirBoard will run exclusively on electricity, meaning the vehicle will have a lower environmental impact than other transportation methods. He forsees its use in military and emergency situations since its portability would allow pilots to fly over treacherous terrain, create all new kinds of aerial footage, and even perform "aerial cattle mustering."

Right now the AirBoard is currently in the prototyping phase, and we haven't actually seen a physical exhibition of the product, but Straupenieks projects a finished product by early 2016. Enjoy these CAD renderings of the concept below, and check out the AirBoard's IndieGoGo to learn more.

Visit AirBoard's website here.

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