Plenty of companies are gearing up to deliver small parcels with quadcopters, but could consumer drones handle heavier packages — like, say, a person? Engineers from the University of Oslo have shown it's not impossible, strapping together eight hexacopters to lift a weight of 61 kilograms a meter into the air, holding it aloft for 37 seconds. Okay, so the Megacopter isn't ready to handle your morning commute, but it did earn the team a Guinness World Record in the category of "Heaviest payload lifted by a remote-controlled multicopter."
Multicopters have lifted people off the ground before
Cheap motors and rotors have made creations like this pretty accessible for backyard tinkerers for a while now. People have achieved crewed flight with all sorts of multicopter creations, and Guinness World Records notes that the Megacopter gets its own record as this sort of flight is apparently more challenging "without a pilot aboard to stabilize and make adjustments."
Whether that's true or not may depend on the technology being used. Chinese drone maker Ehang turned heads at CES this year when it unveiled the prototype of an computer-controlled, person-carrying helicopter, scaled up from a quadcopter design. Ehang's claims about its "autonomous" vehicle should be taken with a hefty pinch of salt (the company offered no real proof that the technology works — just a lot of ambitious quotes and glossy renders), but as the Megakopter shows, people are still testing the limits of what a lot of little rotor blades can do.