We should first define hoverbikes. Its name actually means hovering motorcycle, although those, in the current concept stages, resemble huge drones with the possibility of transportation of persons, rather than motorcycles, or any other air vehicle. Also, they should be distinguished from the hoverboard (like the one from the Back to the Future movie), especially since the hoverboards didn't get off the ground yet.
So hoverbikes, in theory and in concept examples, are used for the transport of one or two persons, float a few hundred meters into the air, usually for an hour. Although it seems fun to manage the dronelike vehicles without remote control, one should know that there are slightly different concepts.
Concepts of hoverbikes
The most realistic example of hoverbikes, in terms of design, is the BMW concept that has emerged from the 603-pcs Lego set depicting BMW R1200 GS motorcycle. The machine looks futuristic, with flaps that may assist in balancing, but there is a problem. The machine does not hover.
Somewhat more useful concept is E-hang 184, but it can hardly be called a hoverbike. In fact, it's more reminiscent of the drone with a box, or a first attempt of a flying car. Eight propellers raise the chassis weight of 240 kg, up to 3,500 meters into the air. However, the flight takes only 25 minutes and the machine can transfer only 100 kilograms, but it appears to be a good start for a drone that should transport people.
Only the third concept has a realistic shape of a hoverbike, and that's the Russian Hoversurf Scorpion-3 platform with four propellers, which looks like a pumped-up bike with paddles. The manufacturer claims that S-3 may serve as a hoverbike, flying car, taxi or for freight. In addition, it is equipped with many security and software solutions, and that's all we know about it. However, it is scheduled to appear in 2018 in the taxi form.
But, why wait for 2018, when the Aerofex Aero-X will be on sale by the end of this year. For $85,000 you can get hoverbike for two, which can raise up to 4 meters above the ground, flying at a speed of 72 km/h up to 75 minutes, and transferring 140 kilos. It's accessories are safety air bags and pontoons for driving over water.
Safety and functionality
Speaking of safety, true to say that there is still no safe way for emergency landing of hoverbikes. We are also skeptical about their handling, because the classic, much smaller drones have problems in the gust of wind. How much a hoverbike pilot can do if his machine breaks down in the middle of the flight due to manufacturing defects (like the GoPro Karma)? Although, all these concepts have some form of security protection, it is generally reduced to mobile apps, software solutions, airbags and bars. After all, if in 100 years of existence, we did not find a way to prevent airplanes from falling, then we will not find it for hoverbikes, as well.
In addition, a large number of propellers located relatively close to the place designated for seating people may some people scare the hell out. If they make the wrong step, there's a chance of being amputated, because these blades are not easy to stop. In addition, only one concept offers a secure cabin, while on the others, people are exposed to the environmental elements and practically, danger.
Their functionality can also be viewed from multiple angles. In fact, for all flights people need to get pilot's license, and permission to fly. These documents are obtained in the relevant departments for air traffic, and the procedures for obtaining them are complicated. If you do not want to bother with it, you will have an unused vehicle. In addition, flights over 300 meters above sea level are covered by radars, hoverbikes do not have a radio, an air control does not know your smartphone number, so it is possible that you're going to be subverted, if you fly ilegally, or didn't previously identified yourself.
Furthermore, how will the hoverbike be transported to the desired airfield? These are the vehicles with size of a small car (some are even bigger), and transportation in the trunk of a car is not a solution. Especially because propellers are on four side beyond the vehicle body. If you are inexperienced pilot, you simply can not be helped. These are not cars, which already have ABS, ESP and other systems that helps driving. You are left on your own skills, while controls are rudimentary, with the stability systems.
Predictions about hoverbikes
We would like to emphasize that it would be good to develop some other form of hoverbike first; without blades and with at least some protection of passengers. Jet engines fell on our mind, but they create even more noise from the buzzing propellers, and the question is how to react on the ground, while there's alot of debris that can be sucked into the engine.
Then there is the question of handling, because it is not realistic to expect that they will be stable in flight like an airplane or helicopter. Althought it seems like a technology that gently knocks at the door, we think that these vehicles will become popular in two decades. Let us recall the cars and airplanes. Although invented in about the same time, cars quickly broke through and become popular after twenty years, while the aircrafts had primarily military use, and began to be used for passenger transport in the fifties.
Unfortunately, a price will play a vital role in popularity of these "toys", but also strict rules about flying, which is likely to remain rigid for small buzzing objects that are trying to make it to the sky. Hoverbike thus, initially, should be the vehicle of the rich and skillful. After all for $85.000, the cost of the Aero-X, you can buy a used single-engine airplane in a good condition.
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