Futuristic Technology Meets The Wright Brothers: The Latest Hoverbike
One of the fiercest technological competitions of the 2010s has seen entrants like a California engineering company, an aeronautics lab backed by the U.S. government, and the inventor of the Flyboard all racing to create the world’s first viable hoverbike.
But apparently you don’t need the technical know-how of Malloy Aeronautics or Aerofex, or the expertise of jet-ski champion Franky Zapata, to build a working prototype.
Wacky British inventor Colin Furze has released video of his own hoverbike, but his creation is more evocative of Orville and Wilbur than the Jetsons; the bike is able to get off the ground – but just barely.
The Amazing Mr. Furze
If you think you’ve heard Furze’s name before, you’re probably right (or Wright). He’s a British plumber who gave up fixing pipes in order to do more "creative work," publicizing his weird inventions on YouTube and eventually landing a few gigs on UK television. Among his more famous creations have been a scooter with flamethrowers mounted on it (he was arrested when he tried it out), a set of realistic "Wolverine claws" based on the X-Men character, and a wrist-mounted "Hidden Blade" based on an Assassin’s Creed game.
The good news is that the Furze hoverbike did get a few feet off the ground and he was able to travel what appears to be a few hundred yards. The bad news? Since there’s no way to control the machine’s torque, the pilot (or rider) has to struggle with two throttles to stay stabilized and in the air. In Furze’s self-made video you can watch him spinning around wildly trying to remain airborne, but thankfully he didn’t crash (at least, not in the video he supplied). But the video makes Furze look a lot more like a modern-day Wright brother than a test pilot
Meanwhile, larger companies continue feverishly working to build a hoverbike that people would actually buy and be able to use.
Aerofex says that it will launch its Aero-X model in 2017 at a price of around $85,000, and is already taking $5,000 deposits on its website. The rotor-based bike certainly sounds impressive, with the company saying it will be able to fly ten feet off the ground at more than 40 miles per hour, with a 75 minute maximum flight time and a maximum load of 310 pounds. The driver will sit as if on a motorcycle while working with an intuitive pilot interface, and the vehicle will take off and land vertically.
The Malloy Aeronautics machine, with four offset rotors making it look like something from Star Wars, is still in development with no release date set. It appears to be worth waiting for if the company can pull it off; they say it will be able to fly at altitudes of more than 1,000 feet at significant speeds, and will even have an autopilot function.
As for Franky Zapata, the inventor of the Flyboard has released video of his flight in his latest craft. It looks like a conventional Flyboard (which is a water jet platform attached to a jet ski and a favored recreational pastime of the jet-set crowd) but with a jet turbine engine and a fuel tank worn on Zapata’s back. It’s safe to say that most people won’t be eagerly awaiting the release of this one.