'Hover bike' prototype thrills sci-fi fans: Would you buy one?
Based on a design drawn up in the 1960s but later abandoned due to rollover problems, Aerofex's new proof-of-concept craft keeps itself stable by responding to a human rider's natural sense of balance - much like a bicycle.
The impressive machine can be seen flying over the Mojave Desert at speeds of up to 50 km/h in a video uploaded to YouTube last month, but engineers don't cap it at this speed for a lack of technological ability, according to Aerofex. Older versions of the vehicle could fly about as fast as helicopters.
"Imagine personal flight as intuitive as riding a bike," reads the firm's website. "Or transporting a small fleet of first-responder craft in the belly of a passenger transport. Think of the advantages of patrolling borders without first constructing roads."
Online response shows that many people are, in fact, imagining the future of personal flight based on this device. Many seem anxious to own a hover bike of their own.
Unfortunately, that won't be happening any time soon according to the aerospace company.
"We have no plans no plans productize what you're seeing in the video," Aerofex founder Mark De Roche told CBC News, explaining that the machine isn't necessarily meant to be ridden.
"Eventually, a computer will do the work. This is just how we develop technology. You get a feel for the nuances of the machine by being on it that you wouldn't necessarily get from sensors."
De Roche said that a second iteration of the unmanned vehicle will be coming out in October. Eventually, they hope to develop unmanned heavy-lifting drones.
When told that some bloggers were skeptical over how real the videos were, De Roche laughed.
"Yes, the videos are real. That's why the quality is so bad," he told CBC News. "We're all a bunch of engineers, we don't know how to create CGI movies."
For those who can't wait to get their hands on a commercial-grade hover bike, one Australian engineer is offering to build prototypes of a motorcycle-like hover vehicle for approximately $80,000.
Chris Malloy's hover bike is ridden like a motorcycle with ducted fans at the front and back instead of wheels. According to the product's website, it can theoretically hover more than 10,000 ft. in the air.
What do you think of hover bikes? Will they ever be commercially viable within your lifetime? Would you buy one if you could? Let us know in the comment section below.
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