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A British drone enthusiast known only by his YouTube user name, gasturbine101, has built a home-made flying (well, hovering) machine using 54 counter-rotational propellers.
Each of the 54 propellers on the Swarm Manned Aerial Vehicle Multirotor Super Drone, also known as the Swarm man, is just 18 inches in diameter. They are the standard RC aircraft types used at a relatively low fraction of their rpm capability. The design also includes a plastic dome that sits over the pilot's head to protect from the rain and the blades.
For most of the video the machine doesn’t manage to rise more than about 4 to 6 feet off the ground, although at one point it does appear to reach about 15 feet for a few seconds. After the test, the pilot concludes that there’s a lack of “yaw authority” and that the vehicle will probably need a tail propeller to control side-to-side movement.
The swarm man cost £6000 (about $9160) to construct and is powered by four cell batteries. Speaking about the build, gasturbine101 said: “The Swarm man carrying multi-rotor airborne flight testing montage. 54 counter-rotation propellers, six grouped control channels with KK2.15 stabilization. Take off weight 148kg, max lift, approx. 164kg. Endurance10 minutes. Power approx. 22KW.”
The YouTuber did point out that the Swarm man was never intended to make significant journeys or even fly much above head height, rather it was designed just for fun and to show what’s possible with a bit of ingenuity.
Check out the video below to see the Swarm man in action.