Be forewarned that this 15-year-old will make you feel unaccomlished and unimpressive.
Christian Stewart, a freshman at Harvard-Westlake school in Studio City, Calif., wrote a computer program for a lightweight foam drone, which is operated by an iPhone remote and able to shoot video from hundreds of feet in the air, the Los Angeles Times reports. It took $500 to make the foam glider, which Stewart estimates is $24,500 less than comprable models.
However, the cost-effective plane recently had a close call, as Stewart explains in the NBC video above. He was out giving the "Low-Cost Autonomous Civilian Unmanned Aerial System" a test flight when a "perfect turn" led the plane to land "gracefully in the leaves of a 60-foot palm tree."
When tree trimmers turned down Stewart's father's request for help, his mother called the fire department. Stewart said that he was shocked that they came. First, the firefighters attempted to reach the drone with a long ladder (depicted above) but it wasn't long enough.
"I said, 'Oh well, don’t worry about it. This is taking too much of your time.' But they stopped listening to me and kind of refused to have me say no," Stewart explained.
Ultimately, after three attempts with different water nozzles, the firefighters blasted the drone out of the tree. "It was really incredible. It flew over a pool and a house and landed on the street," Stewart said.
Thanks to the firefighters, Stewart will take his drone to the California State Science Fair April 30-May 1 at the California State Science Fair.
In the following video, Stewart explains what an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is and how he made one that was so much cheaper than comparable drones currently in use. In his interview with NBC, Stewart said he made the drone for environmental purposes, although he admits that it could also be used for spying purposes.
Stewart sold his "quadricopter drone" to a toy company that now produces it, and he recently won first place in the LA County Science Fair's engineering category for his computer-operated drone, the LA Weekly reports.