The U. S. Defense Department has officially cemented a deal with U. K. based engineering firm Malloy Aeronautics to develop a functioning prototype of – drumroll please – a hoverbike! As you’ve probably already heard, the Star Wars-esque aircraft has been very publicly in the works for the last few years, and even ran a stint on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter last year to help raise money for the project. After seeing a scale model capable of carrying an actual human on display at the Paris Air Show last week, I can see why it piqued the DoD’s interest - I’d want to get my hands on this unbelievably cool technology myself. I mean, every kid I knew growing up wanted one of those hoverboards from “Back to the Future Part II”; and if it is at all possible, this is even better. Plus, unlike that hovering skateboard of my childhood dreams (which according to the movie we were supposed to see this year, by the way) – the Hover Bike actually exists.
Malloy Aeronautics will be partnering with Maryland-based defense company Survice Engineering to develop the full-scale Hover Bike, and will even be setting up shop in Maryland for the foreseeable future as part of “an ongoing research and development contract.” The current model looks very similar to a motorcycle whose wheels are parallel to the ground, but it functions more like a giant propeller drone. Basically, it combines the lifting power of a helicopter with the look and feel of a motorcycle – pretty rad. In its current stage, this innovative prototype uses two oak propellers powered by a 1,170-cc four-stroke engine to create the lift of its lightweight carbon fiber body. The company claims that the latest prototype has a maximum takeoff weight of nearly 600 pounds and can log a distance of just over 91 miles on a single tank of gas.
The Department of Defense has taken a rapt interest in this emerging technology for several reasons. In addition to being safer than a helicopter thanks to its guarded rotors, which can’t tear into humans or other objects, it is also a significantly more cost-effective option than a helicopter. Plus, its smaller size makes it far more maneuverable in tight spaces, and it can be operated by a human pilot or autonomously from the ground. This is game-changing when you consider the impact it could have on search and rescue missions, cargo deliveries to unsafe destinations and even the safe surveillance of war-torn areas or natural disaster sites. Now I know you’re sitting there thinking “That’s all fine and good, but I’m not enlisting in the military just to get to ride the Hover Bike…” – well good news extreme gadget lovers, you don’t have to. In addition to their ongoing work with the DoD, Malloy Aeronautics has announced that they will continue to develop the first commercial version of the awe-inducing Hover Bike. Now all I have to do is come up with a killer name for my long-awaited Hover Bike gang.
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