August 24, 2012
Aerofex Hoverbike, Yea That’s A Real Thing
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
It's probably been a dream of yours forever, and one company is turning it into a reality by creating the world's first hoverbike.Aerofex, has a proof of concept prototype aircraft that seems to be a cross between a bicycle, jet ski, and hovercraft.
The team performed their first flight back in December 2008, and ended up finding "plenty of stability," but no control, as the craft ended up on a tumble-weed. However, after multiple tests, and trial and errors, the team has found great success recently.
They posted video back on August 14 of a flight on a lake bed of the hoverbike performing laps around the empty lake bed in a California desert.
"The symbiotic relationship between vehicle and rider is similar to a bicycle - each dependent on one another for controlled, stable flight," Aerofex said in a blog post. "The benefit is simplicity; no artificial stabilization or software, and the pilot feels naturally in command with little prior training."
During the recent test, the engineers show how they've been able to prevent the "helicopter brownout" from happening in the desert.
When helicopters take off in the desert, the recirculation of air causes the dirt beneath the aircraft to churn up, making the helicopter get lost in a cloud of dust until it lifts off from the ground.
The Aerofex have taken care of this from happening with their hoverbike vehicle.
"On this last flight of the test-bed before rework, the favorable downwash of ducted fans is clearly visible. Dust and debris are pushed away from the pilot, even while flying close to the ground," the company wrote in the blog.
"The ducts prevent tip vortices from forming and isolate the fans from the external flow field. The latter quality permits unperturbed flight around obstacles and when transitioning indoors."
Aerofex said now they are developing a "more capable" version of the test-bed vehicle. This version will include upgrades to the landing gear, as well as the pilot positioning.
"A much more capable vehicle, it has been set up specifically to develop three new flight technologies," Aerofex wrote.
The company said a vision for this vehicle is it could help patrol borders without first constructing roads. Or, the hoverbike could work as a first-responder craft for search & rescue operations.