In what appears to be a vehicle straight out of a Star Wars movie, the United States based Aerofax released a video a few months back showcasing their latest invention: a working hoverbike.
It’s called a “Tandem-Duct Aerial Vehicle”, and it works by hovering above the ground using two powerful fans in the front and back of the rider. According to manufacturer Aerofex, piloting the bike is simple and instinctive, much like riding a regular bicycle or motorbike. The hovercraft moves and functions with the same type of mechanics, which also suggests that just about anybody could hop on and drive off, without the need for extensive training.
The California based company doesn’t plan on mass-producing these bikes for the public, unfortunately. Their long term goal is to design and develop an unmanned version of this hovercraft for the military. The vision is that these hoverbikes will be of good use as both fighting vehicles and ambulatory first-responders.
The bikes will be able to manoeuvre across dangerous terrains and in tight spots humans might have trouble accessing. A few years ago, the Pentagon announced their interest in creating unmanned medic drones much like this recent iteration from Aerofex. They could easily deploy from behind the frontlines, carry a wounded soldier on an attached stretcher, and bring him to a field-hospital without endangering the lives of other soldiers.
According to Aerofex, the hoverbike can travel at speeds up to 150mph while carrying 5 people, and can fly at rooftop height(approximately 2-3 stories high). For safety and experimental reasons, the video Aerofex released only shows the pilot traveling 30mph at 5ft above the ground.
The possibilities for Aerofex’s hoverbike are endless. When natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, or tsunamis occur, medical personnel could finally have the tools to safely rescue stranded survivors, transport food and medical supplies, or simply survey the damage. Helicopters are too bulky and gas-guzzling for practical use in these situations. But a hoverbike would represent an excellent solution to the problem.
While we the public may never have the chance to ride on an Aerofex hovercraft, the amount of popularity this recent invention has generated will likely inspire other manufacturers and developers to create their own. Aerofex has proven that the technology is available; it’s simply a matter of time before somebody with the means to make this happen realises it’s the next big transport innovation.
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