#99: Commuticopter

I admit it. I’m obsessed by flying machines. Not just aeroplanes, but especially those systems which can lift an individual and take him over the rooftops just like James Bond’s rocket belt in Thunderball. In these days when unmanned aerial vehicles are gaining credibility, I still want to get up there myself (as long as I’m not required to be a passenger).

I’d settle for a regular helicopter, but the price tag and running costs are on the steep side of vertical take-off. So today’s invention is a way to make commuting exciting again.


A high-spec. remote controlled model helicopter can be bought for $1,000. It will lift 5Kg +fuel and fly at 20mph under load for about 20 minutes. For a lot of people, this would be sufficient range to get them to work -if they weighed 5Kg.

So I propose to get together an array of 12 of these machines, attach them to a light aluminium frame using climbing rope and then secure myself to the frame with a hangliding harness.

Not having 24 arms means that all of them would be controlled using a single R/C system, tuned to the same frequency. The frame would prevent (most) collisions and in the event of some malfunction, the multiplicity of lift sources would provide ‘graceful degradation,’ of a sort.

Fuel consumption? Probably not that much worse than a thirsty, 4×4, school-run tank. Noise level? Off the scale. Think of it as a safety feature -no one can claim they didn’t hear you coming.

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