Introducing the Gizmag Store

Video purports to show successful hover bike test flights

By

August 21, 2012

Still from an Aerofex test flight video

Still from an Aerofex test flight video

Image Gallery (7 images)

Videos released by California-based tech research company Aerofex appear to show successful test flights of a prototype hover bike that gains lift from two large ducted rotors, similar in principle to Chris Malloy's Hoverbike prototype we've previously covered. Aeroflex claims its hover bike allows the pilot intuitive control over pitch, roll and yaw without need of artificial intelligence, flight software or electronics of any kind.

According to a report in InnovationNewsDaily on Monday, Aerofex has resurrected 1960s research technology which had been abandoned due to stability problems. The company has apparently rectified the issue with the addition of knee-level "control bars" on either side of the vehicle that make the vehicle more responsive to the pilot's movements.

"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," Aerofex founder Mark De Roche told InnovationNewsDaily. "Since [the pilot's] balancing movements are instinctive and constant, it plays out quite effortlessly to him."

InnovationNewsDaily reports that although the hover bike is capable of greater altitudes and speeds, test flights to date have been limited to 30 mph (48 km/h) and 15 feet (4.6 meters) for safety reasons.

In recent days and weeks Aerofex has released a number of videos on its Youtube channel and "flightlog" Tumblr page. A video uploaded to the latter back in March appears to show the prototype losing control during a test flight on February 13 2010. "It would take 16 months, two inventions, and 41 field tests before we were back in the air," the caption reads. "The result of that effort on control would be dramatic. Our take-away: Fail sooner and never again test on Friday the 13th." My calendar indicates that Friday 13, 2010 was a Saturday. Subsequent videos appear to show more successful tests.

According to InnovationNewsDaily, Aerofex has no immediate plans to commercially launch a manned hover bike but instead sees the technology as a test platform for new unmanned drones. Outlets including Fox and Yahoo! News have since picked up InnovationNewsDaily's story, and there appears to be no suggestion from any quarter at this stage that the authenticity of the videos is in question. Here's a sample video. You be the judge.

Sources: Aerofex, InnovationNewsDaily

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life.   All articles by James Holloway
Tags
27 Comments

If that is real that is awesome and I want one!

Jonathon Patrick Marks
21st August, 2012 @ 06:09 am PDT

Yeah, it's cool, but I'd hate to have one park next to me kicking up all those stones. Or worse yet, hate to own one and get it FOD'ed out with debris sucked into the fans.

SteveZ
21st August, 2012 @ 06:45 am PDT

First of all, the video does not look real to me.

And second, adding a skirt will dramatically increase fuel efficiency and stability. And then you have a proven ol' hovercraft. Nothing new. Really.

cachurro
21st August, 2012 @ 08:04 am PDT

Even if it is real, this tech makes such a mess, and would require everyone around to wear a duster and face mask to deal with it.

Tom Arr
21st August, 2012 @ 08:24 am PDT

Yeah....intuitive flight controls.....that's why it needs 41 flight tests before getting back in the air.

I really would like to ride, own and test one, but from watching the test pilot struggle. I'll pass.

What's wrong with adding a simple gyroscope or two for stability?

VoiceofReason
21st August, 2012 @ 09:28 am PDT

Made for hover only. Do not exeed 10cm of altitude. Use only in wide open spaces. Do not, ever, use the Hoverbike in traffic. Have medical personnel ready at all times while using the Hoverbike. Do not operate the Hoverbike near to persons or property. Have... etcetera.

bas
21st August, 2012 @ 09:35 am PDT

Having four ducted fans above the body of the vehicle would make it more stable (cant the fans' rotational axes inward a few degrees for more stablity). Power it with a turbocharged aluminum block Chev V8 (inexpensive powerplant). Control direction and yaw with vanes in the ducts, if the vehicle is otherwise stable there would be no need to control pitch or roll. You could get all kinds of complicated if you like, but this could be done really simple; simple is cheaper and more reliable.

William H Lanteigne
21st August, 2012 @ 12:34 pm PDT

I personally would prefer four fans for balance.

Niner Nation
21st August, 2012 @ 12:37 pm PDT

re; VoiceofReason

I agree gyroscopic stabilization is the way to go. You need two wheels otherwise you just fall 90 degrees away from the direction of the "push".

Slowburn
21st August, 2012 @ 01:48 pm PDT

So it kicks up a little gravel and grit. still have to load chase scene music from Johhny Quest and ride one of these

Timothy Jahn
21st August, 2012 @ 05:51 pm PDT

Expect to see a chase scene with these in the next Bond film.

Paul Smith
21st August, 2012 @ 07:13 pm PDT

I didn't see any 'co-ordinated turns ' !

Martin Hone
21st August, 2012 @ 11:02 pm PDT

Uhhh,... you guys ever see any early film of initial test flights of planes? Talk about messy.

Jamey Weare
22nd August, 2012 @ 06:18 am PDT

I suspect dust and debris are a problem for routine operation in inhabited surroundings. But looks cool in the sun-baked desert floor. Watch out ATVs, here come Aerofex ! Reminded me of Star Wars racers....

thangavelu-girardey
22nd August, 2012 @ 10:00 am PDT

I've seen a hover craft tooling around on an ordinary dirt lot... as opposed to the hardened, baked surface of a dry lake bed like this... and you would not believe the torrent of dust that is kicked up. You'd want a full-on face covering respirator to play on this thing... and a large area free of obstacles and traffic, because your vision will be very obscured.

John Hagen-Brenner
22nd August, 2012 @ 10:03 am PDT

More fan tech, bleh. We need more R&D in to real MagLev Tech for use without rails.

Zdaxxy™
22nd August, 2012 @ 10:09 am PDT

Why would you build and develop this thing to 'prove' drone technology, when you developed it to respond to a rider to achieve its stability? Are they building this new drone to have knees to push the knee bars?

Jason Boone
22nd August, 2012 @ 10:30 am PDT

How can they call this a bike?? There don't seem to be any pedals or anyone pedaling.

Rob

Rob Wheeler
22nd August, 2012 @ 10:43 am PDT

The A.V. Roe Company tested the somewhat similar "Avrocar" in 1960 - 1961 at Malton, Ontario, Canada. Successful liftoff testing was carried out on the taxiway beside the (then closed) assembly hanger of the "Avro Arrow" CF-105 interceptor. The stability problems mentioned in the article contributed to ihe project's cancellation at that time.

http://www.transchool.lee.army.mil/museum/transportation%20museum/avrocar.htm

http://www.avroarrow.org/avrocar/avrocar.html

bajessup
22nd August, 2012 @ 11:03 am PDT

Miles per gallon might make this a lousy idea although for industrial uses it could make a lot of sense if built as a mass lifter. Rather than fly in a huge quad copter bringing in a heavy lifter on a truck and having it carry loads over soft or difficult terrain makes a lot of sense. Also fuel consumption would be less of a factor as one would have a delivery goal rather close at hand.

Jim Sadler
22nd August, 2012 @ 11:46 am PDT

Okay, now let me see you take it up a hill, or a flight of stairs.

Paul Anthony
22nd August, 2012 @ 02:46 pm PDT

only solution is the personal helicopter,or twin rotor which has been made.

Dawar Saify
22nd August, 2012 @ 02:53 pm PDT

Very Good!!

If anything this device will appear in a variety of movies. Hollywood will love to get their hands on this Hover Bike. He has developed a new movie prop if anything.

Stephen Morbley
22nd August, 2012 @ 11:49 pm PDT

All the trash talk about this prototype. Nice work Aeroflex!

Gustavo Navarro
23rd August, 2012 @ 07:01 pm PDT

"InnovationNewsDaily reports that although the hover bike is capable of greater altitudes and speeds, test flights to date have been limited to 30 mph (48 km/h) and 15 feet (4.6 meters) for safety reasons."

According to the article as quoted above, this is intended for freeflight - NOT just hovering. I must therefore note that many of the comments criticizing potential problems with FOD,debris,

et cetera, are irrelevant & ignorant.

As far as FOD, even at 15 feet FOD is not an issue since the air is going AWAY from the machine. Anyway, just takeoff from clean concrete and then fly high&far away ... no problem!

Yet, as Jason Boone observed, why go to all the trouble to build an intuitive platform for a UAV program? There are plenty of hovering UAV's and I don't think anybody would consider intuitive flight to be an advantage for any of them.... Even a remote operator would not seem to benefit from such a concept.

Please clarify.

Griffin
23rd August, 2012 @ 09:12 pm PDT

@Griffin You stole my thunder! :) Glad to see someone else read the whole article.

kellory
25th August, 2012 @ 08:29 am PDT

It's a fraud. If it wasn't, we would have been treated to more than just glimpses as it passed through shot, and sound as well. I think I saw a sasquatch in the background at one point...

Marcus Carr
28th August, 2012 @ 02:31 am PDT
Post a Comment

Login with your gizmag account:

Or Login with Facebook:


Related Articles

Just enter your friends and your email address into the form below

For multiple addresses, separate each with a comma




Privacy is safe with us because we have a strict privacy policy.

Looking for something? Search our 26,559 articles