Forget the flying car. In the future of our dreams, we want to be gliding around Jedi-style on hover bikes like the one currently in development by Aerofex, an aerospace company in Manhattan Beach.
In June last year Fairfax Media, publisher of this article, wrote about a similar hover bike a Sydney man was attempting to commercialise. But there was never any video available to prove it could hover.
Aerofex recently posted new video of its hovercraft gliding close to the ground over a crackly brown desert. The hovering action is provided by two ducted rotors on the underside of the vehicle that spin in opposite directions. A pilot controls the hover bike by leaning to the left and right, in much the same way a rider controls a bicycle.
In a caption accompanying the video, the company explains that it has added technology to keep dust and debris away from the pilot, which apparently has been a problem with rotored vehicles in the past.
The company has been working on its hover bike since at least 2008, according Aerofex’s flight log, which invites readers to follow along as the company makes improvements to the vehicle.
Unfortunately, the company told Innovation News Daily that it has no plans to bring the vehicle to market any time soon. Instead, its concept vehicle is meant to be a test platform for new unmanned drones.
The Aerofex hovercraft is a new twist on an old idea, according to John M. Davis, a former technical director for the American Helicopter Society International, who said that the idea of hover vehicles has been bouncing around since the 1950s or ’60s.
Davis told the Los Angeles Times that while he applauds what Aerofex’s founder and chief technological officer Marc De Roche has accomplished, he wonders if it passes the “so what test.”
“It is a very fascinating vehicle to look at and watch operate, but can it find a really unique mission that warrants its full development,” Davis said. He adds that the physics of a hovercraft like Aerofex’s make it difficult for it to fly at high speeds or very high off the ground.
LA Times and Fairfax Media
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