A floating hotel with self-flying rooms just got a little closer to becoming a reality

HokThe Driftscape.

When you travel, you usually don’t want to spend a lot of time in your hotel room — you want to explore.

But a new futuristic hotel concept called Driftscape might make you want to stay indoors. The idea, which comes from Canada-based design firm HOK, is that each room would be a flying glass pod.

The concept won this year’s Radical Innovation Award, a contest that searches for imaginative hotel designs. In June, a jury of seven hotel investors, developers, and architects selected Driftscape as the one of two finalists, out of nearly 50 submissions from 28 countries. About 200 hospitality industry professionals voted to name Driftscape the winner on October 5.

Driftscape’s room pods would be connected to a main stationary hub, but could detach to allow guests to fly around a given location. The HOK team calls it a “drone hotel,” senior project designer Ian Rolston told Business Insider in June, when the jury picked the finalists.

The design would take exploration to another level — travellers could get an aerial view of the fjords in Norway, the glaciers in Argentina, or the Great Wall of China.

According to the award’s founder, John Hardy, who sits on the jury, the imaginative concept won because of how different it is from any other existing hotel.

“Driftscape meets growing market demand for authentic, immersive experiences with a concept that is entirely new and original,” Hardy wrote in a statement. “The audience was won over not only by the romance of the idea, but the amount of research supporting its feasibility.”

The hotel would hold 10 to 15 flying pods, called “Driftcrafts,” attached to a central hub that houses the main lobby, bar, lounge, and restaurant.

Powered by the same technology as drones, each 200-square-foot pod could fit two adults, with space for a queen bed, a bathroom (encased in non-transparent walls), and a desk. To accommodate larger groups, the pods could be attached to one another.

To fly a pod, guests would work with the hotel staff to design an individual flight plan. The pod would then be detached from the main part of the hotel, and an artificially intelligent system would follow the flight plan automatically, sending guests their separate ways. The passengers would just sit back and enjoy the scenery. At the end, the pods would automatically fly back to the hub and reconnect.

Each pod would also contain a dashboard with a camera, so that guests could snap photos while they zoom around.

There are no concrete plans to build the first Driftscape, since the drone technology it would require isn’t advanced enough yet. To fly guests around safely, the pods would need a much more powerful motor than any drone currently has, especially considering the design doesn’t include wings.

The goal of the Radical Innovation Award is simply to imagine what could be possible in a few decades, Hardy told Business Insider in June.

But while the design seems like sci-fi, the technology to power the hotel could become commercially available in a few decades. The aircraft manufacturer Terrafugia has developed a prototype of a flying car, called TF-X — the Federal Aviation Administration approved flight tests for it in December 2015. Tesla, Google, and Uber have also already developed their own self-driving vehicle technology.

If the Driftscape ever becomes commercially viable, Rolston estimates that a night there would likely cost about the same price as renting a luxury car.

But unlike a car, the hotel would let you see the landscape from extraordinary new angles.

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