Hoverbike: Is This the World’s First Ever Flying Motorcycle?
How about a flying bike first before aiming for a flying car? A Kickstarter campaign for the project of Londoner Chris Malloy is currently raising funds for the commercialization of a flying bike. It is called the Hoverbike and is touted to be a revolution in aviation built to do what a helicopter does with less cost and better functionality. The Kickstarter campaign has set £30,000 goal but is now having more than double the target funding with nearly 400 backers. The campaign will end on August 31. Just for emphasis, though, the Hoverbike whose sales will benefit from the Kickstarter funding is only a ⅓ scale drone Hoverbike. It won’t be the full design intended for human use.
Carrying with it years of R&D work, the Hoverbike is a vehicle that melds the simplicity of a motorbike and the flight capability of a helicopter. it is a creation of Malloy Aeronautics (MA). It is a quadcopter touted as the world’s first flying motorcycle. As stated on its official website, the Hoverbike is built with the goal of coming up with a flying vehicle that is extremely reliable, ruggedly simplistic, and safe. It is not an entirely new technology but a combination of already existing tried and tested technologies integrated into a system that works.
If you are imagining a vehicle that transforms from being a motorcycle into a flying craft, you will likely be disappointed. The Hoverbike is not a transformer. It has a fixed shape and form. It can hover on land but it cannot roll over grounds in the same way a motorcycle does.
Specs and Features
The Hoverbike has a flat twin 4-stroke one camshaft and 4-valves/cylinder engine with a balancer shaft. It has a 1170 cc engine displacement. Compression ratio is at 12.0:1 while nominal output (@7500rpm) is 80 KW. Ignition is electronic. The fuel system is also electronic, using an intake pipe injection. Fuel tank capacity is 30 L but is extended by secondary tanks by another 30 L for a total fuel capacity of 60 L. The fuel used is regular unleaded gasoline.
The propellers, on the other hand, are 2x Tasmanian Oak with carbon fiber leading edge. The developers opted for a two-blade propeller for cost and efficiency considerations. Total airframe width, length, and height are 1.3 meters, 3 meters, and 0.55 meter respectively. Dry weight is 105 kg while the maximum takeoff weight is up to 270 kg. When it comes to range, the Hoverdrive can go as far as 290 kilometers with the 60L total fuel capacity used at a 80 knots (80 nautical miles/hour or 92± miles per hour). The Hoverdrive is estimated to be capable of going to altitudes higher than 10,000 feet and is estimated to be capable of maintaining a static hover at around 9,800 feet.
Don’t be too excited to get a Hoverdrive to be used on the road, in the city, while taunting other land vehicles getting stuck in the middle of a congested traffic. This vehicle is not intended for such purpose. Government regulatory agencies responsible for approving vehicles for roadworthiness have not discussed nor provided any approval for the Hoverdrive yet. According to Malloy Aeronautics, the Hoverdrive, for now, is a good vehicle to be used for the following purposes:
- Aerial cattle mustering
- Aerial territory/land surveying
- Wildlife and parks management
- Search and rescue operations
- Power line and public utility facility inspections
- Filming action scenes for shows or movies
- Emergency response operations
- Military services
As mentioned earlier, the Kickstarter campaign will aim to sell only a ⅓ scale version of the Hoverbike as demonstrated by a robot “manning” it across the English countryside. Hence, it’s more like a toy than an actual flying vehicle that can carry and be maneouvered by a human driver. The tested Hoverbike as documented by Reuters on video is not the final product intended for human use. This test Hoverbike was smaller. It flew at 100 knots or around 115 miles per hour.
The full scale Hoverbike is still in the development stages. Additional fundraising is being conducted to finance the development of the Hoverbike that can be actually be used by humans. Nevertheless, Malloy Aeronautics already accommodates those who are interested in buying prototypes, those who want to do their own testing. You need to directly contact Malloy Aeronautics for inquiries on the price of the prototype unit. As for the actual Hoverbike (for human use), it is expected that one unit will cost around $55,000 but will be cheaper of Malloy Aeronautics is able to sell more than just a few hundreds in a year.
Hoverbike is definitely an interesting vehicle. However, for now, it isn’t a very appealing vehicle for human use that is ready to be taken to the streets or across different kinds of terrains. Those who will be buying the earlier batch of commercial units, when they become available, will likely still have hesitations in risking their own lives to do the safety, reliability, and efficiency test drives for the benefit of other buyers.