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Drones towing people on wakeboards, skis – what’s next?

Want to get in on the ground floor of the latest sports to incorporate drones? Well, you’re in the right place!

Most of us fly drones for recreation, and many of us also fly them for work. And one of the next big evolutions around the corner? Well, that seems to be passenger-carrying drones. Companies like EHang have been testing these in a number of countries – including South Korea and Canada. And while this use-case is a big one that’s getting a lot of attention, we’re pretty intrigued by something we just saw fly past on Facebook – even though it’s not brand new.

First, though, some context.

Four years ago…

Back in December of 2016, you likely saw the video we’re about to show. It was groundbreaking and featured what was billed as the largest home-made drone ever built. The purpose? To make something powerful enough to tow YouTube phenom Casey Neistat on a snowboard. In fact, something so powerful it could even lift him right off the ground:

Remember this? Of course you do…

Wild, huh?

That was really something. In case you’re interested, there was a second video just on that behemoth of a drone. Remember: Always remove your props when testing!

Pretty crazy – but it worked!

That was then…

Your patience is about to be rewarded with a video featuring a drone built using some components from Infineon Technologies. The company isn’t really a drone manufacturer, but it does produce microprocessors and other electronic components that can be put to use on a project like this.

And that project? As part of a Red Bull campaign, a very powerful Infineon drone towed “wakeskating” specialist Brian Grubb down the Sava River in Slovenia. The X8 design has no shortage of power:

So cool…

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We came across a variation of this video initially on Facebook thanks to Peter Devčić. He’s from Croatia, which neighbors Slovenia. And he says the location was likely chosen because drone regulations are currently a little more flexible in that neck of the woods:

Infineon went there because of nature and the river itself… It’s a really “drone friendly” country because of the laws (almost nothing is prohibited yet). At the end of this year, we’ll get European laws for UAVs. But until then you can do almost anything if you’re not flying above 150 meters.

Peter Devčić

We initially thought this video was new, but it always pays to check. Seems this was done in late 2018.

And then, once we started looking around, we discovered this gem from FreeFly, posted back in 2016. In fact, this video pre-dated Casey Neistat’s Christmas spectacular – and may well have inspired him:

That looks fun…and the weather is warm…

What’s next?

Well, I think you know it: Urban Air Mobility, featuring drones like those built by EHang. These will be simply like unmanned Ubers of the air, we believe. You’ll summon them to specific locations using an app. You’ll climb in and buckle up. And then, with multiple redundancies in place, be shuttled to the location of your choice.

EHang South Korea delivering rice
This EHang flight was delivering goods on a test run in South Korea…

Seems like science fiction, but many test flights with passengers have already taken place in China. Dubai will likely be the first to roll out the system.