US Army Eyes on a Hoverbike
The United States Army Research, Development and Engineering Command has commissioned two companies to develop a hoverbike technology. Yes, the US Department of Defense might be is looking to produce on a Star-wars type vehicle (speeder bikes) that could hover and do the things as shown in Star Wars like gathering intelligence and transporting supplies.
Malloy Electronics i a UK-based company that specializes in developing hoverbikes for the last few years. The company even used Kickstarter to raise funds and now the project is headed to a new direction.
The Malloy Hoverbike
The Malloy Hoverbike is a hover bike that can reach heights of up to 10,000 feet with a top speed of 170mph. It is a result of years of research and development from the company. The idea was to combine the simplicity of the hoverbike and the freedom of the helicopter; thus, making the world’s first flying motorcycle.
According to the company, when compared with the helicopter, the hoverbike is cheaper, more rugged, and easier to use. The bike flies like a quadcopter which can be flown manned or unmanned. Their goal in producing the bike is to produce an alternative to a helicopter that is designed for ruggedness and simplicity.
The first hoverbike is the prototype bi-copter. This vehicle is controlled by directing the thrust from its two propellers using control vanes.
Although a perfect design for this vehicle, the company concludes that the available technology is not ready for a vehicle with a bi-copter design.
The company today is developing a design suited for today’s
technology, quad-copter design. Although still a prototype, here’s the
current design of the bike.
The quad-copter design will be more stable because of the extra fans. This allows for better protection against rolling which could be fatal at speed or if the pilot and fan made contact.
The engine is aircooled. The bike uses electronic ignition and uses electronic intake pipe injection. Just like a motorcycle, the hoverbike runs on unleaded gasoline with a fuel tank capacity of 30L without secondary tanks and 60L if a secondary tank is attached.
Drive shafts are made of custom carbon fiber with a custom gear box with 1:5:1 reduction. The propeller, on the other hand, has two oak blades with carbon fiber edges. The airframe of carbon fiber with Kevlar to reinforce it and a foam core.
The bike is around four feet wide and 10 feet long and about 2 feet high. The bike itself weighs 230 pounds. The maximum takeoff weight is 600 pounds. It will give a rider weighing 286 pounds a flight time of 45 minutes.
The total thrust is 650 pounds with range about 93 miles and can hover at 9,800 feet.
Price per unit is esitmated to be around $50,000 to $60,000.
What It Can Be Used For
The hoverbike is an excellent alternative to helicopter particularly
when cruising on tight areas such as the forest or places with a lot of
obstacles. Unlike a helicopter, it can travel on tight spaces without
problems. It has an option for manned or unmanned flight and also, the
hoverbike rotors are guarded so humans or object won’t tear into it.
For $50,000 it is cheaper than having a helicopter.
The developers are looking forward to using it in search and rescue operations and cargo delivery mission. It could also be used for surveillance, just like how the scouts used it in Star Wars. It would also be useful for geologists that can now cover larger areas of land than before. Doctors and paramedics could fly with hoverbikes into disaster zones which is quicker than riding in a helicopter. Then due to the unmanned feature of the vehicle, doctors can send it as a drone to the base if in case they lack supplies or even send an injured person to the hospital immediately.
Wind won’t be a problem to this hoverbike as its initial intention was to be flown in low altitudes. This will make it safer compared to helicopters.
While consumers wouldn’t get a hold of this bike yet even if they have the money, they can get a glimpse of the future technology through the 1/3 scale radio-controlled model of the quadcopter available at Malloy Aeronautics for $1,653.
The hoverbike is possibly inspired from Star Wars movies and as Star Wars fans, we feel very excited that such a technology can be now made possible. If the technology indeed does brought interest to the US Department of Defense, then expect rapid developments of this hoverbike and in a few years time we’ll be able to see it being used by the military. However, the problem with this is that won’t be available to consumers.