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.
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.