Elviss Straupenieks graduated from Rainis 6th High School in Liepāja this year, but unlike other graduates, he is just 17 years old and already running his own business – Elviss is the founder, owner, and head of the AirBoard startup. AirBoard is the world’s smallest manned aircraft.
“It’s like a flying Segway. That is, it is a board with eight propellers fitted to the sides the board, and it moves in reaction to shifts in the rider’s weight,” the young man tells weekly newspaper Kursas Laiks.
The AirBoard has four spinning rotors like the average quadcopter, but at 40" x 30", is large enough for a person to stand on. Steering is intuitive: lean forward to go forward, lean right to go right. Straupenieks himself calls it the "Segway of Airplanes." Its concept is based on designs from the Hiller VZ-1 Pawnee, which was basically a helicopter rotor with a platform on top. The idea never took off because of the difficulty and danger it presented to pilots, who were essentially standing over giant blenders.
AirBoard models are currently being actively tested, and the main objective of the project is to create an environmently-friendly, convenient, and easy to use vehicle, which may also alleviate problems with traffic jams.