A British firm has partnered with the United States Military to develop a Star Wars-style hoverbike, constructing a prototype of a unique craft that may redefine air travel.
The hoverbike is the product of Malloy Aeronautics, a UK-based firm, according to the Guardian. Chris Malloy, a New Zealander based in Australia, developed the initial hoverbike prototype in 2011, before starting a company in Berkshire with seed funding from Kickstarter. Powered by a 1200cc BMW motorbike engine, the initial prototype hoverbike utilized two fans and shared a great deal in common with quadcopter drones.
— Technical.ly B’more (@TechnicallyBMR) June 18, 2015
Though operated with motorbike-style controls, the newest hoverbike prototype utilizes four shielded fans for thrust, much like a drone. It is being designed with the intention of providing the same range and utility as a helicopter, while achieving advances in stability and speed.
Malloy’s hoverbike design caught the attention of the United States Defense Department, which has struck a deal with the firm in order to develop a next-generation prototype, as Time reports. The department stressed in a press release, however, that the deal is only for development at this time. As part of the design process, the firm created a one-third-scale drone version of the hoverbike, which is now for sale on its website.
According to Grant Stapleton, co-director of the company, the newest version of the hoverbike has yet to be ridden by a human operator.
“At the moment, it’s radio controlled, it’s flown as an unmanned vehicle. We haven’t put someone on it yet and won’t do for a little bit, while we’re working on its flight performance, things like that.”
Though other firms have worked to develop a hoverbike in the past, as the Inquisitr previously reported, with varying degrees of success, Malloy’s design is one of the first to elicit the attention of the Defense Department. Malloy Aeronautics will establish a joint office near the U.S. Army Research Laboratory in Maryland with U.S.-based defense firm SURVICE Engineering Co. in order to facilitate the hoverbike’s further development.
— Popular Science (@PopSci) June 22, 2015
While data regarding the capabilities of the hoverbike is not readily available yet, Malloy Aeronautics intends to develop the concept for a variety of applications. Since their hoverbike design is small, versatile, and inexpensive to produce, the firm foresees it being utilized for humanitarian as well as military applications.
Though the company’s website is taking “request for orders” for the craft, the “Hoverbike Helicopter” at this time has no target completion or delivery date.
[Image: Malloy Aeronautics via BBC News]