A Helicopter Motorcycle? Hoverbikes Are Coming!
You’ve got to love crowdfunding. Kickstarter has brought us everything from smartphone apps to Reading Rainbow remakes. And now it’s on the verge of giving us something revolutionary – a motorcycle helicopter. Or is it a helicopter motorcycle? Let’s just call it a hoverbike. Remember the speeder bikes from Star Wars?
Yeah, the ones with lasers on the front, racing through the forests of Endor. Well, this one doesn’t have lasers (or Storm Troopers), but you get the idea. Still a work in progress, hobbyist turned inventor Chris Malloy of New Zealand says his vision for the hoverbike is for it to be able to go any place a helicopter can – and then some.
Early prototypes used kevlar, carbon fiber, and aluminum to build what is essentially two helicopter propellers with a motorcycle frame in the middle. The idea was to create something that could do many of the same things a small-ish helicopter is used for – search and rescue, emergency services, military operations, rustling cattle – but better and more efficiently.
It uses a four-stroke flat-twin BMW engine and thrust was directed from the two blades using something like a rudder. With the vehicle claimed to be capable of flying 10,000 feet
It uses a four-stroke flat-twin BMW engine and thrust was directed from the two blades using something like a rudder. With the vehicle claimed to be capable of flying 10,000 feet in the air and reaching speeds of 173 mph, it’s sure to give environmentalists a fit if it ever reaches mass production.
But despite being sleek and versatile, this model didn’t quite fit Malloy’s requirements for practicality and accessibility given the limitations of today’s technology.
Whoa, whoa…hold on, stop crying. We’re still getting a hoverbike. Sit down and let me finish.
The “Drone 3”
Chris then created a 1/3 scale unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to test out a new design idea. Doubling the number of propellers, the bi-copter was now a quadcopter. By adding more blades and overlapping them, the hoverbike got the control and stability it needed while also staying cheap to produce.
The second manned prototype will be based on this layout, though obviously certain features – like the payload and camera dock – will change. Both the drone and full-scale hoverbike will be foldable to make them easy to carry. Not only that, the drones went up for sale back in August with the hopes of bringing in the revenue needed to complete the project.
They run from $500 to $1,000, depending on whether you need a flight and motor controller or batteries. Because who knows, maybe you have that stuff lying around in a spare closet somewhere.
Malloy Aeronautics just doubled their Kickstarter goals of ｣30,000 for the Drone 3 project, which they’re using as a stepping stone to the full-on hoverbike. It’s still a few months before orders start being shipped out, but the sales will go directly towards funding the manned hoverbike’s development and production.
Pretty impressive considering it all started out as a mere pet project in Chris’s garage. Things changed around the time he started getting visits from the US Army and Lockheed Martin, among others.
It will still be a few years before you see hoverbikes picking up food at a McDonald’s drive thru. Besides all the building, testing, production, shipping, and the like, there’s still the important question of how lawmakers will define and regulate a legit hovercraft. It will completely redefine personal travel as we know it.
How Will YOU Use It?
Will it be regulated to airspace? Or restricted to fly on or over roads only, given its gasoline engine and motorcycle-like frame? Only time will tell.
But we’re definitely excited. We’ve already started recruiting for our hoverbiker gang. If interested, you can submit your resume (and a picture of you wearing leather chaps) through the comments section. Experience hitting people with chains or other blunt objects is a huge plus.
The bike itself is estimated to cost about $40 to $50k, which is not exactly cheap for some of us. But it’s certainly more affordable than a small helicopter and that’s pretty much the whole idea.