The hoverbike becomes a reality on Kickstarter
This drone-piloted hoverbike is yours on Kickstarter for £900
It looks like something from Star Wars or Back To The Future, but this is a real-life, fully working hoverbike prototype. Chris Malloy and his company Malloy Aeronautics want to bring this contraption to market, and to raise funds they’re promoting a 1/3 scale drone-piloted version on Kickstarter. If the proof-of-concept aircraft is a success then the full-scale model — this time with a human at the controls — can be funded.
The working scale model is ‘flown’ by a 3D-printed robot with a high-definition camera mounted in its head. A human operator can manoeuvre the machine, which is powered by an electric motor, through a standard RC helicopter controller. It can be yours for as little as £900 if you’re prepared to put some money behind the fundraising campaign, though you’ll have to wait until November for delivery.
The makers of the hoverbike hope to use the amassed funds to develop a full-sized version
It was during the development of the scale model that Chris Malloy and his team decided to sell duplicates of it in order to fund the construction of the full-size hoverbike. “This drone was originally built as a proof of concept for our latest full-sized Hoverbike prototype,” says the inventor. “After testing the 1/3 hoverbike, we realised that it had lots of features that made it a fantastic drone… [and] selling this scale hoverbike to the public would allow us to raise funds to continue the development of the manned version.”
The Kickstarter hoverbike not only looks stylish and aerodynamic, it can also fly along a pre-determined path as well as following real-time instructions from a human operator. Four helicopter-style rotors are used to get the hoverbike in the air and moving along the ground — it weighs 2.2kg, is 1.155m (45.5″) long, and has a maximum speed of 45mph. The body of the hoverbike is built from a carbon composite and aircraft-grade aluminium.
Testing has already begun on the manned hoverbike, though it is kept tethered to the ground for now
Ready to go?
As for the full-sized hoverbike — which you’ll be able to clamber on yourself ready for your morning commute — tests are ongoing. Using a 1170cc air-cooled engine, the aircraft can provide 295kg of thrust. There’s still plenty of work to be done, but the engineers working on the project estimate that the finished model will be able to reach heights of 9,800 feet (about 3,000 metres) and speeds of 170mph, so zooming through the forests of Endor (or Derbyshire) in the style of Luke Skywalker could be on the cards.
“The hoverbike is the result of years’ worth of research and development,” say the designers. “We combined the simplicity of a motorbike and the freedom of a helicopter to create the world’s first flying motorcycle. When compared with a helicopter, the hoverbike is cheaper, more rugged and easier to use — and represents a whole new way to fly. The hoverbike flies like a quadcopter, and can be flown unmanned or manned, while being a safe, low-level aerial workhorse with low ongoing maintenance.”
The inventors of the hoverbike hope to see it used for commuting, farming and emergency rescues
Until now, the full-scale hoverbike has never flown without being tethered to the ground. Once it’s fully airborne, its makers are expecting it to be able to travel 92 miles or for 45 minutes on one tank of fuel. If you’re thinking about saving up you’re going to need to write a cheque for about £45,000 when the hoverbike goes on sale, so the Kickstarter scale model might be a more realistic purchase for the time being.
Ultimately, the Malloy Aeronautics team is hoping that its hoverbike can be used for farming, land surveying and even commercial flights — you could rent out a hoverbike instead of a bicycle on your next holiday, perhaps. In a few months, final flight tests will be carried out, and then the manufacturers will begin the process of getting the aircraft certified by the relevant aviation and government authorities.
The hoverbike has controls that are similar to those of a motorbike
While the hoverbike is primarily intended for personal transportation, its makers also envisage it being used in search and rescue operations as well as carrying small amounts of cargo into tight spaces or to remote areas. It could be used to inspect power lines, for example, or film sporting events in the same way unmanned drones already are. Another important factor is that it can be folded down to a third of its size for easy transportation.
The controls of the hoverbike work very much like a regular motorcycle. To lift off, the pilot must increase the thrust via a right-hand throttle grip — forward motion can then be achieved by changing the thrust vector. Pushing down on either side of the handlebars turns the hoverbike left or right. The computerised fly-by-wire system built into the aircraft means you won’t come crashing down to earth if you ease up on the controls.
Once completed, it’s estimated that a full-scale hoverbike will cost around £45,000
If pledging £900 will stretch your budget a little too far, cheaper Kickstarter rewards include tshirts and a CAD design for the Cyborg-Buster robot. There’s also an official carry bag available that lets you haul around the scale model hoverbike on your back. The team are hoping to raise £30,000 by the end of August and they’re already on their way, with more than £22,000 pledged so far over the Web.
Malloy Aeronautics is also busy looking for investors and volunteers who might want to contribute significant amounts of money or time to make the hoverbike a reality. Of course, with its ability to traverse both land and water, it could revolutionise the way we get around — once the straps come off the full-sized prototype and it takes to the skies, you might be seeing these machines buzzing through the streets and fields sooner than you think.