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Drone version of Quadrotor Hoverbike hits Kickstarter

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July 22, 2014

Malloy Aeronautic's latest Hoverbike prototype makes use of a quad rotor design

Malloy Aeronautic's latest Hoverbike prototype makes use of a quad rotor design

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Having revealed its original Hoverbike design back in 2011, Malloy Aeronautics has been hard at work developing its ambitious, science fiction-inspired vehicle. The team has made some significant changes in the last few years, moving from a dual rotor to quad rotor design while adding some serious stability credentials in the process. Chris Malloy has now launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter where backers are being offered a working one third scale version of the second-generation Hoverbike, while giving the team a helping hand in the development of the eventual, manned vehicle.

The hoverbike has been a staple of science fiction for decades, but it’s only in recent years that the concept has started to take tangible steps into reality. The team’s original Hoverbike design, revealed back in 2011, boasted some impressive stats, including the ability to theoretically reach speeds of up to 150 knots (278 km/h or 173 mph) and altitudes of 10,000 ft (3,048 m) and beyond.

The quadcopter drone version of the Hoverbike can travel at speeds of up to 45 mph

With its new design, the one third scale drone version of the vehicle is impressively stable and is even able to carry a glass of water without spilling. The scaled down version of the vehicle, which acts as a proof of concept for the full-sized Hoverbike, packs a 3DR Pixhawk flight controller and is capable of following a pre-determined flight path, following the pilot, and can even perform automatic take-off and landing maneuvers.

The drone is 1,155 mm (45.5 in) in length, constructed from aircraft grade aluminum, carbon composite and polyurethane, and capable of carrying a recommended payload of 1.5 kg (3.3 lb). The quadcopter itself weighs in at 2.2 kg (4.85 lbs), and can travel at speeds of up to 45 mph (72 km/h). Its flight time is determined by the weight of its payload.

The Hoverbike can be folded to a third of its full length

The scaled down version of the Hoverbike also has an advantage over other consumer quadcopters in that it folds down to a more manageable 590 mm (23.2 in) length. You can even purchase a purpose designed backpack from Malloy Aeronautics for transportation. Pledges for the fully functional drone start at £715 (US$1,219), with shipping expected to start three to four months following the conclusion of a successful Kickstarter project.

One last thing that makes the miniature hoverbike an even more appealing prospect is the so-called Cyborg Buster one third scale human model that is available as a CAD design and ready for home 3D printing. The semi-articulated figure is designed to mimic a human pilot, and there’s even a purpose-designed space in the head for a Go-Pro camera.

Kickstarter backers will be able to 3D print their own Cyborg Buster pilot

While the tangible reward of your very own Hoverbike quadcopter might be enough to make you shell out and support the crowdfunding campaign, the final goal of the project is a little grander. After years of development, the team at Malloy Aeronautics arrived at the current quad rotor design and is now working towards the construction of a final engineering prototype for submission to aviation certification authorities. The team plans to use the funds provided by Kickstarter backers to make this a reality and will continue work until the eventual manned Hoverbike is available for sale.

Once the full size vehicle is operational, the team envisages that it will be used for more than just recreation, highlighting uses including cattle mustering, cargo insertion (up to 120 kg/265 lb) and perhaps most notably, search and rescue operations. The fact that the vehicle can be folded down to a third of its length makes it easy to transport, and its precision controls should make it ideal for dealing with difficult terrain such as that associated with ski and mountain rescues.

More information is available in the pitch video below.

Sources: Malloy Aeronautics, Kickstarter

About the Author
Chris Wood Chris specializes in mobile technology for Gizmag, but also likes to dabble in the latest gaming gadgets. He has a degree in Politics and Ancient History from the University of Exeter, and lives in Gloucestershire, UK. In his spare time you might find him playing music, following a variety of sports or binge watching Game of Thrones.   All articles by Chris Wood
12 Comments

In the article from 2011 of their dual rotor design the first comment from Mike Donovan was "uhh looks a bit "tippy""

It looks like it took them several years and thousands of dollars in R&D to agree with the critics of the old design and make a more stable quad rotor platform. Aside from allowing it to be narrower I'm still not entirely sure what the trade off is by allowing the propellers to overlap but it's no doubt still an improvement in stability over the old 2 rotor design.

Providing enough lift for the stable transportation of a person is still another magnitude of difficulty beyond the small scale model. The final platform might have to look like something closer to this or a traditional quadcopter to be stable: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L75ESD9PBOw

Daishi
22nd July, 2014 @ 11:52 am PDT

There are many more energy-efficient ways to travel from one place to another ... but I doubt if energy efficiency is on the mind anyone dying to have one of these.

PolishBear
22nd July, 2014 @ 01:02 pm PDT

Wasn't there another company that is about to start production on the first hover bike? Also a better selling point would probably be a more symmetrical design.

Bullitt4796
22nd July, 2014 @ 02:59 pm PDT

Worth a follow-up as work continues!

QUESTION TO EDITORS -

What happened to another 'hoverbike' design from a little while ago?

I remember it was like a motorbike frame shape with pairs of swivelling jet exhausts [like the Harrier Jump Jet] front and rear for mobility.

I feel that serious stability control problems - reaction speed? - killed that one, but perhaps with ever-improving gyro controls it may be worth revisiting.

- Think this is the one you're thinking of: http://www.gizmag.com/aerofex-aero-x-hoverbike-2017/32120/ - Ed.

The Skud
22nd July, 2014 @ 08:49 pm PDT

That looks really awesome! I'm sure it will take a while before the engineering is sorted out, and I imagine that battery technology is a huge inhibitor right now but a promising concept. Hope to be able to cover a working prototype of this at some point!

Quad copterHQ
23rd July, 2014 @ 04:15 am PDT

"Its flight time is determined by the weight of its payload", what 5-10 min, 10-20 min, are there no tested ranges? Ever hear of charts? More info required.

Wulfher
23rd July, 2014 @ 06:36 am PDT

Why not just use gyroscopic stabilization instead of going with the four rotor design?

Slowburn
23rd July, 2014 @ 07:06 am PDT

I offered a program to fully fund manufacturing and was turned down.

Thomas

Game Changer
23rd July, 2014 @ 08:25 am PDT

I like the fold up design, put a camera on there - great for search and rescue. We just had a lost hiker in the area. A $1,000 an hour helicopter was used to locate him. Imagine a S&R vehicle driving to the suspected area, unfolding the UAS, launching it and beginning a search. You could have a second one with water (or whatever) in it once the hiker was located. Batteries would recharge at the base vehicle. GPS software would reduce pilot workload. Pretty cool.

David Finney
23rd July, 2014 @ 09:56 am PDT

I would go with overhead twin contra rotating rotors front and back.

ezeflyer
23rd July, 2014 @ 10:24 am PDT

i like it...

billybob1851
23rd July, 2014 @ 11:05 am PDT

Fantastic!

Gvk Rao
23rd July, 2014 @ 02:46 pm PDT
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