Early this year we wrote about Aerofex, a California company developing a personal hover vehicle and planning to begin selling a commercial model in 2017. Now a second company, based in the U.K., has unveiled its own plans to build a full-scale hoverbike.
In addition to raising money from private investors, Malloy Aeronautics is taking to Kickstarter to fund its hoverbike project. The project is still getting off the ground, so to speak, so Kickstarter backers won't be getting an actual hoverbike as reward but are promised a cool quadrotor with impressive payload capability and an unusual design (overlapping rotors and a foldable frame).
It all started in 2011, when a New Zealander (i.e. crazy dude) named Chris Malloy built himself a mostly working hoverbike. It was essentially a motorcycle, except that the wheels were rotated horizontally and replaced with big ducted fans. The prototype got airborne, which is way more than can be said for most things that sound too good to be true:
Malloy has since changed the design from a bi-copter to a quadcopter to simplify the control and other systems that would be required for a two-rotor vehicle ("with current technology we could not design a bi-copter cheap enough for safe and competitive sales," he says).
The quadcopter design uses two pairs of rotors that overlap to help conserve space and weight, which is an interesting (and patent pending) idea. Here's a full scale frame:
Cool, right? But still a long way to go, and as with any product, some amount of ca$h money is required to incrementally build and test prototypes, especially if you want to make hoverbikes available to humanity for the low low price of $55,000 within the next decade.
To raise those funds, Malloy started a company and launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. The campaign allows you to get your hands on a one-third scale model of the latest incarnation of the hoverbike, with funds from the campaign going towards the full scale manned vehicle:
A mini hoverbike of your own will only cost you about US $1,200. Expensive, yes, but remember: you're investing in the future of our dreams.
[ Hoverbike ] via [ Kickstarter ]
Evan Ackerman is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Since 2007, he has written over 6,000 articles on robotics and technology. He has a degree in Martian geology and is excellent at playing bagpipes.