In 2011, a company called Aerofex unveiled the future: a hoverbike that works almost exactly like the speeder bikes in Star Wars. Aerofex was immediately inundated with phone calls, emails, and messages because their hoverbike, the Aero-X, was the transportation vehicle we've all wanted since we were kids. Fast forward to the present, and the company has finally officially announced that we’ll be able to buy our own Aero-X in just a few years, in 2017, for around $85,000. And if you want in now, you can put down a $5000 deposit to save a spot in line.
The commercial version of the Aero-X will basically be a motorcycle-like hovercraft. Set to hover around 12 feet above the ground, the bike can reach speeds up to 44 miles per hour. Although that seems a little slow (compared to actual motorcycles) the idea was to create something that wouldn’t send its passenger flyings off if they reached super high speeds. The bike supports a total of two riders, and because it hovers, doesn't need any roads, or even solid ground.
A lot of serious thought has gone into making the Aero-X not only safe, but stable. Aerofex wanted a bike that drove just like a motorcycle, so the Aerofex team faced challenges that often come with flying vehicles, including the problem with “coupling” that plague some similar aircraft. Coupling happens when a vehicle goes forward and its rotors turns it left because of the way the rotors spin. In this situation, the pilot compensates for the movement. However, with Aero-X, riders steer the hoverbike as if it were a motorcycle: they lean right or left and use the grips on the handlebar.
The Aerofex team also solved the wind gust problem, something that affects nearly all flying vehicles. Taking a cue from standard quadcopter drones, the bike has gyroscopes and accelerometers that can detect unintended pitch, yaw, or roll, allowing an onboard computer to automatically compensate.
So far, flying the Aero-X doesn’t require a pilot’s license, thanks to its maximum hover height being so low. Also, as long as riders stay on their own property and not ride the hoverbike down actual streets, the FAA won’t need to develop guidelines for licensing. The idea is that the Aero-X is for off-road adventures, but eventually, these things will probably be showing up as police and ranger vehicles, too. But since we still don’t have flying cars, why can’t we eventually drive our hoverbikes to the grocery store as well?
Via IEEE Spectrum