If there’s one thing from the Star Wars movies that I could to bring to life, it would have to be Darth Vadar’s light sabre – to this day, it’s still by far and away the coolest sci-fi weapon around.
Sadly, current laser technology is still some years off from that kind of development, so it looks like I may just have to settle for a Return of the Jedi hover bike instead.
Yep, you read that right – a hover bike. Aerofex’s prototype flying machine has been in the works for a while now, but the company recently released its first video footage of its new baby in action, and boy is it cool!
Admittedly, the aerial vehicle is kind of clunky-looking, resembling a over-sized flying camper stoves welded together, but it’s the way it handles that’s getting me all weak at the knees. Apparently, the cumbersome design is necessary for the vehicle’s stability, but these problems have been overcome by the creation of a mechanical system that incorporates two control bars at knee level, allowing the pilot to control the hover bike through his natural movements – leaning forwards, left, right and so on.
The vehicle is powered in much the same way as a standard hovercraft, with two ducted rotors underneath the machine spinning in opposite directions and blasting out air at such a rate that it’s able to ease the craft off the ground, before propelling it forwards on the pilot’s command.
Mark de Roche, founder of Aerofex, expanded a little on how the hover craft works:
“It essentially captures the translations between the two in three axis (pitch, roll and yaw), and activates the aerodynamic controls required to counter the movement — which lines the vehicle back up with the pilot. Since [the pilot's] balancing movements are instinctive and constant, it plays out quite effortlessly to him.”
Such an intuitive control system means there’s a lot of potential for the hover bike – for example, it could be used by border patrol officers in remote areas, or by emergency services when roads are impassable or non-existent. Then of course, there are people like me who think it would make a damn cool toy if nothing else J
Sadly, Aerofex don’t have plans to develop a commercially available version any time soon. They say that the vehicle has been developed as a test platform for unmanned drones that could be used by search and rescue teams or the military to deliver supplies, or possibly for agricultural purposes as some kind of workhorse – a real pity, I was quite looking forward to it as an alternative to my daily commute!
Check out this awesome video and see the hover bike in action: