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With a futuristic combination of drone technology and snowboarding, the Latvian company Aerones is redefining extreme sports. Dubbed “droneboarding,” the burgeoning sport pairs skilled pilots with fearless athletes. Snowboarders hold onto a tow rope while a nine-foot long drone flies through the sky, pulling the riders across the frozen terrain.
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Almost one year ago to the day, Aerones published footage of snowboarder Kaspars Balamovskis being towed by one of its heavy-duty drones. The first-person perspective from Balamovskis’ GoPro calls to mind Anakin Skywalker’s podracing scene from Star Wars.
In its latest test conducted Jan. 14, Aerones managed to pull four snowboarders simultaneously, a remarkable feat of engineering (and coordination).
“It seems to be a successful test,” said Aerones CEO Janis Putrams. “We started thinking about it two years ago. It was a sort of Friday afternoon idea and we just wondered if it would be possible,” he explained to AFP.
The 16-rotor drone is capable of lifting up to 145 kilograms (320 pounds) and reaches a maximum speed of 150 kilometers per hour (94 mph), according to the news agency. For now, safety concerns have kept droneboarding speeds at a cool 60 kilometers per hour (37 mph).
Davis Ceze, a 24-year-old professional wakeboarder and snowboarder, expressed his approval. “That was awesome,” he told AFP.
Anita Leina, 22, wants to put droneboarders in the driver’s seat. “It’s very cool. But the ultimate would be to control your own drone while you were snowboarding.”