The Thursday Blog: It’s About Goddamn Time Edition

I have been waiting a long time to say this. It seems with the number of things that we all take in stride that were basically science fiction as I was growing up, it wouldn’t have taken this long to happen. But that’s okay. I am a patient person… or at least I can pretend to be. In any case:

The hover bike is a reality.

George Jetson can suck my ass.

It's hard to imagine this parked anywhere, not covered in the blood of its rider.

Working out of his garage, (think Steve Jobs) Aussie Chris Malloy has built and is now testing a real world, practical hover bike. It (theoretically) can fly for about 45 minutes at 172 mph with a 280 pound passenger, and as high as 10,000 feet… higher if the rider has their own source of oxygen.

Now currently in the United States such a craft would be considered an ultralight, which requires no license  to operate. This seems like one of those whaddyacallems… bad ideas. The projected price tag of $40,000 — $50,000 will probably keep city blocks from looking like the grill of a country pickup truck during love bug season, but who are we kidding here? We all know who this is going to appeal to… teenagers and rednecks… neither of which suffers from worldwide renown for dedication to safety. I suppose the price tag might be seen as a boon amongst classists, as it will be almost exclusively the rich teens and rednecks who kill themselves on the damn thing.

Malloy himself touts the uniquely safe features of his invention. In flight it remains extremely stable, and its far fewer moving parts and greater number of redundancies could make it more reliable and less threatening than a helicopter… assuming it wasn’t being piloted by a Blade Runner fueled, trust fund-coke head. Of course you could say the same thing about a skateboard too.

While the prototype has yet to sport them, the final “consumer version” is likely to include parachutes for either rider or bike. (I’m thinking rider is better.) Also a gyroscopic stabilization scheme to prevent flipping over. It’s stable, but let’s not get carried away. Finally a mesh will cover completely over the propeller housings, decreasing the likelihood of midair limb loss and decapitations… always something to look out for.

As a sci fi nerd, my guess is that we will see military and police applications for this well in advance of commercial uses. But make no mistake, that will be the signal that the hover bike has officially arrived. What Malloy has constructed has been entirely home grown, no corporate money or labs or teams of engineers involved. Hell, his website exists to collect public funding so he can keep working on it evenings and weekends while he’s not at work. The possibilities are already pretty amazing, just imagine what will be done with it when he gets some serious capital.

Lena told me ages ago that I was not allowed to own a motorcycle. If I got one, she would divorce me, so I didn’t. Never even had to think about it.

But motorcycles don’t fly.

64 Responses to The Thursday Blog: It’s About Goddamn Time Edition

  1. While it’s often lamented that we don’t have flying cars yet, I point out the local evening news and how many NORMAL cars people crash into each other. I ask, You want some drunk hillbilly FLYING through your neighborhood? This guy has a cool invention, but we’re better off keeping things like that in the hands of guys smart enough to actually INVENT them!

      • Your dream is already smashed in: They make it illegal to fly in urban airspace below a certain height without a filed and rubber-stamped flight-plan. The definition of urban airspace will keep expanding until you’re only allowed to use it in specific areas set aside for people to play with expensive flying toys–which is more or less the way it is now.
        Flying cars was technologically possible for years, The Man decided he didn’t like the idea after test-driving the concept with the personal jet for rich-ish people in the 70s and 80s.

        • It might sell in Brazil, where all the rich people do not have cars and chauffeurs, they have private helicopters and pilots, because in the mega-cities the streets are considered far too dangerous to drive on for rich people, because gangs try to hijack the cars.

          privilege = private law

          Of course, some dick might find it funny to take pot shots at a fly-bike rider at start or landing.

          • That depends on the real cost, if it’s expensive enough to keep out of the hands of the barrio dwellers sure: Brazil is a country in which people don’t need to play stupid speed demon tricks for thrills so much so they might even trust some of the upper middle class with those things there.

            • I know I wouldn’t want to be on one unless it had a damn good safety record behind it (mechanically). It doesn’t look like something that would make a very graceful landing in case of engine failure! A fall from 20′ can be just as fatal as 10,000′, and there wouldn’t be time for a parachute to do much more than be a pretty silk streamer for the screaming dirt-torpedo. I like the concept of a Jedi speeder bike better- more forward speed, less altitude. It would just need a super fast computer for collision avoidance and hight adjustment.

                • So you ARE a redneck. Funny how so many suburbanites have that exact same attitude; I’m on the fence but leaning towards considering suburbanites as rednecks as well on the basis of having similarly stupid attitudes towards power, boredom and death-wishes.

  2. I want one. I can see it now, zooming over all the traffic, laughing like a crazed maniac, and going over 100 miles an hour. I need some special goggles for this one.

    • But once too many people have one, you *need* flight zones. Heck, you already have flight zones NOW, what with police and ambulance and media helicopters, private airplanes, and (in rural areas of Europe) sailplanes (a.k.a. gliders).

      At the speed that thing goes, people need to take driving/flying lessons, and I hope as f*ck they will be forced to acquire a license. I don’t think a hoverbike qualifies as an ultralight… it’s far too fast, and it has rotors blades like a helicopter.

  3. Kevin?

    I’m sad to say that i forsee an amendment to Lenas list of things-which-will-lead-to-a-divorce. 😛

    • The chance of a collision is greatly reduced though making it much safer than a motorcycle, or even a truck! No more fender benders.

      …lets just ignore the implications of a total collosal mechanical failure though.

      • A collision with other vehicles, maybe….The chances of a collision with the ground, though, are much, much higher…and something tells me the bike won;t win that one.

        • If a conventional (helicopter) power connection to the hubs is used, the autogyro effect will limit the severity of ground collisions.

        • You forget one cause of plane crashes…. collisions with birds. A big enough bird can damage a turbine or a rotor blade.

          And then you crash the hoverbike into some people on the ground, killing them along with yourself. I dunno.

          • One would hope that being a rather slow and small flying object one would be able to avoid high flying geese?

      • Actually the Chinook has center of gravity well below the lift, while this looks to have it above which might cause it to roll.

        • I think it might take on more properties of a hover craft actually. Just a guess but I bet those blades are designed to push air out to the sides rather than straight down, creating a larger air pocket than the bike itself.

        • I was speaking only of the counter-rotating blades and the gyro effect they would have…I actually took the time to post some comments on his videos that the rotors should be mounted higher so that they’ll be above the center of gravity when the rider is on top.

          According to the specs listed on his website, it uses vectored thrust, but that doesn’t change the fact that unless he raises the fans about a foot, it’s gonna be topheavy with anyone on it.

  4. Airspeeders and swoops anyone? This thing NEEDS to happen. Cause even if I never get to see one or ride one, I want the video of some guy zipping around on youtube.

  5. I wonder how many 501 folk would like to play out the scene in Return of the Jedi? The hover bikes on Endor.

  6. When they come out, maybe you and Lena and me and Doug can time-share one!!!! Doug has a Harley, had one when I met him, so no ultimatums allowed in our house. However, now that we have kids, the sitch of open-road riding takes on new gravitas. Sigh… Can we make one that looks like a broom? Quidditch, anyone?

    • Quidditch. Oh yeah. The only thing better than riding one of these around is a bunch of people riding these around in a enclosed space with a bunch of people below them!

      • Wizards have never heard of common sense. Or of basic security. Heck, those are the same idiots who segregate kids into groups according to what a magic hat declares, and give 11-year-olds loaded guns, sorry, magic wands and teach them a bunch of injurious and (in some cases) potentially deadly curse spells, and then let them loose in the school yard. What fun! Snape was right, they should teach the children how to block spells before they teach them how to throw curses.

    • I always wondered about broomsticks… you know, unless you put a saddle on them, they should be rather uncomfortable to ride, especially for men, no?

  7. I have seen this site before. I seem to remember that although he claims to be able to get to 10000ft, he doesn’t actually have any footage of anything hovering a coule of feet above the ground while tethered.

    I don’t think that we are going to be having fliying bikes as a mainstream thing for the foreseable future. Another portable gun platform perhaps?

    • With an operating time of less than an hour, doubt this would be of much interest to the military except perhaps as a means of getting a sniper into a fairly inaccessable position. And in any case, the design would have to be made less topheavy…the current design is as likely to roll over as a Democrat being offered a big hunk of campaign cash.

    • The 10,000 foot ceiling is theoretical. They haven’t yet tested it without the restraints.

      And according to the site, the loss of stability is negligible, and something they have paid quite a bit of attention to. Apparently the thing simply does not “want” to tip over. It’s actually been a bit of a steering hassle, because it isn’t as easy to lean into a turn as you might want it to be.

      • Hehe sound like the feature list of the First Model T Fords. You can have any color you want as long as it is black… in this case you can ride it anywhere you want as long as it is straight ahead.

      • They’ve only tested it while tethered…with the tension from the tethers on all sides, of COURSE it doesn’t “want” to Tip over during THOSE tests. That’s like tying someone’s legs together and saying they don’t “want” to walk.

  8. Fifty Grand?

    Pffft.

    That’s, like, a medium-end Lexus.

    I’ll drive a 1986 Honda Accord, and put one of THESE in my garage.