Hover into battle: US military strikes deal to develop hoverbike tech
A new project to develop hoverbikes for the US Army Research Laboratory could bring humanity one step closer to a real-life “Star Wars.”
Here’s a statement I’m pretty sure isn’t hyperbolic: Everyone wants a hoverbike. Once you get one of the flying motorcycles, all you’d need is Steppenwolf following you around on one of those giant amp-mobiles from “Mad Max: Fury Road” constantly playing “Born to Be Wild” and you’d be the coolest person who ever lived.
We may be getting closer to that moment. A number of companies and builders are developing their own designs for hoverbikes, and the US military wants a crack at the contraptions. The US Army Research Laboratory struck a deal with two companies, Malloy Aeronautics (MA) and Survice Engineering, to develop hoverbike technology for the US Department of Defense. The companies announced their deal last Tuesday at the International Paris Air Show, according to Survice, a Maryland-based company specializing in national-defense engineering. The US Army didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Malloy Aeronautics’ hybrid hoverbike works like a giant propeller drone that combines the lifting power of a helicopter with the look and feel of a motorcycle. It creates lift using two oak propellers powered by a 1,170-cc four-stroke engine and a lightweight carbon fiber body. The company claims its latest prototype has a maximum takeoff weight of 270 kilograms (just over 595 pounds) and can log a distance of 148 kilometers (just over 91 miles) on a single tank of gas.
The hoverbike project started as a hobby that engineer and company founder Chris Malloy worked on in his garage at home in Sydney, Australia. That hobby became a lucrative business as leaders of several industries started inquiring about the hoverbike and its possible applications for commercial and military uses, according to a section on MA’s website detailing plans for the hoverbike. The project completed a successful Kickstarter campaign last year, raising more than $101,000 (£64,089, AU$103,000) from 451 contributors.
The hoverbike is still undergoing testing, and so far, it’s only been seen taking flight with a rider onboard while tethered to the ground, according to MA.
It’s also not the only floating motorcycle in production. California company Aerofex has been working on a hoverbike called the Aero-X since 2012, and last year, it announced plans to release it to the public in 2017 with a sticker price of $85,000 (about £53,730, AU$109,925).
Here’s a video of Malloy Aeronautics’ latest riderless test flight. Just imagine a soldier on it and Wagner’s “Flight of the Valkyries” playing in the background to get the full effect.
By: c/bet Danny Gallagher