We’ve all been regaled with stories in the past few years about how close driverless cars are and that’s fine. However, there is another type of transportation that seems much more fertile ground, namely hover bikes, that might be much more attractive.
The hover bike is straight out of Star Wars
In “Return of the Jedi,” the third “Star Wars” movie, there’s a scene involving a chase on what appear to be airborne motorcycles. Those sure would be cool; heck, they would even be preferable to self-driving cars.
However, the garden variety aircraft usually goes for about the cost of a house and to buy an airplane, one would have to get the same size of bank car loan for a Ferrari. However, there are a small number of people working on hover bikes, which could put aerial transport in the reach of more people.
Simple but complicated
Hover bikes are fairly simple. The pilot sits in the middle, steering the craft. Lift and propulsion are provided by two ducted fans, mounted in front and behind the pilot. Controls are mounted around the pilot’s seat to control pitch, roll and yaw, the three axes of movement in flight.
The military experimented with similar ultra-light rotor-powered aircraft decades ago, settling on helicopters as the superior craft, but a couple of recent examples show some promise, one from an aerospace firm in California and the other from an inventor in Australia.
Wonder from down under
The hover bike from down under, imaginatively called the Hoverbike, according to Gizmag, is the brainchild of Chris Malloy, who works as a mechanical engineer. The craft, according to GearPatrol, is powered by a 1,170cc BMW engine, and is roughly the same size as the top of a pool table. Malloy wants to eventually sell it, and calculates it to be capable of a 92-mile range, with a top speed of 92 miles per hour, according to Gizmag.
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The craft uses handlebar controls, just like an actual motorcycle, but, according to the Hoverbike website, actual flight has not been undertaken yet as every test has involved it being strapped down, though it will lift off the ground.
In the warm California sun
The second, from California, is by Aerofex, an aerospace company, which just like the Hoverbike, uses fore and aft ducted fans to drive the craft, though the rider sits atop the craft, sort of like a motorcycle frame were mounted on top, according to NBC News. However, the stability controls are mounted on control bars the pilot operates with their knees, similar to how a motorcycle rider would lean with a bike. So far tests are limited to 15 feet off the ground and to speeds of 30 miles per hour, but it could be learned fairly quickly.
Sometime before they are available
It will be some time before anything like these hover bikes or any other design of hover cycles have a dealer network, so it’s not like one will be able to pop down to any San Diego, Houston, or Brooklyn dealerships and buy one next year.
Aerofex doesn’t intend to produce their craft commercially, but rather intend to make drones for the military, according to NBC News. However, Chris Malloy does intend on releasing his Hoverbike commercially, once ready. He projects, according to Gizmag, that if he can produce 100 units annually, he can get cost down to about AUS$45,000 (about $47,000) but can bring it down to about the same as a high-performance motorcycle at 1,000 units.