Skydiver Ingus Augstkalns was successfully lifted into the sky by a robust drone and then parachuted safely back down to Earth. Yes, you read that correctly.
Manufacturer Aerones, the Latvian tech company behind this stunt, is claiming this achievement as a world’s first.
“Today we did the first drone jump, a completely new way of base jumping. It makes it possible to base jump from any place—in cities, in desert, in mountains,” says Aerones CEO Janis Putrams.
The featured drone measures 3.2 square meters, has 16 rotors, and weighs 154 pounds. All this enables the drone to lift up cargo as heavy as 440 pounds. It was this same drone that was highlighted in the drone-boarding craze that debuted earlier this year.
Augstkalns was waiting from the top of a tower for his ascent into the sky. The drone carried him about 360 yards into the air. Augstkalns bravely took the plunge back to the ground below, returning as what is believed to be the world’s very first drone-diver.
“It was so much fun—like being in a playground in childhood,” says Augstkalns, according to AFP. “Of course there were still risks in doing it the first time. Being lifted the first five meters was probably the most nervous moment, but the drone lifted me…and two seconds later I was under the (parachute) canopy.”
Extreme sports aside, the company hopes this type of drone could help save people trapped in difficult-to-reach locations.
“We’re aiming at using it for human rescue, so today was a good test,” says Putrams.
The drone has come a long way since its inception two years ago. Currently, the flight times are constrained by its onboard battery, lasting about 10 minutes. Speed is also a factor for improvement, since safe navigation speed clocks in at around 37 mph, far below its theorized top speed of 95 mph.
Watch this interesting feat in the video below.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense