YouTuber Peter Sripol is well known for building all manner of flying contraptions. Usually, they’re interesting variations on fairly standard drones. But he has dabbled in manned vehicle, including an impressive electric plane. Now, he’s back with an even more impressive manned sleigh drone for Christmas.
Yes, you read that correctly: this is a massive ten-rotor drone, shaped like Santa’s sleigh, that Sripol can actually ride in. This isn’t the first manned drone in existence, but they’re very rare due to obvious power-to-weight limitations. It should go without saying, but you shouldn’t try to replicate — you could easily hurt or kill yourself.
The rotor layout for this drone is somewhat unusual. There are six arms, and the middle two arms each have a single rotor. The four corner arms, however, each have dual rotors. The motors, rotors, and ESC (Electronic Speed Control) modules are all similar to what you’d find on a regular size drone, they’re just much larger. There is also a beefy battery pack to power it all.
As you’d expect for a build like this, a lot of testing was necessary before actually riding in the drone. That started with unmanned, unloaded tests, and then moved onto unmanned tests with weights to approximate Sripol’s body. After tuning to stabilize the flight, Sripol’s father hopped in for a manned flight. It looks terrifying as all getout, but the test was successful, and actually surprisingly smooth.
From there, Sripol himself got in and controlled the drone from the pilot’s seat. It may not be as fast as Santa’s sleigh, but it’s an awe-inspiring DIY project.