Aircraft

Video purports to show successful hover bike test flights

Still from an Aerofex test flight video
Still from an Aerofex test flight video
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Still from an Aerofex test flight video
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Still from an Aerofex test flight video
Aeroflex claims its hover bike allows the pilot intuitive control over pitch, roll and yaw without need of artificial intelligence, flight software or electronics of any kind (Video still: Aerofex)
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Aeroflex claims its hover bike allows the pilot intuitive control over pitch, roll and yaw without need of artificial intelligence, flight software or electronics of any kind (Video still: Aerofex)
According to a report in InnovationNewsDaily on Monday, Aerofex has resurrected 1960s research technology which had been abandoned due to stability problems (Video still: Aerofex)
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According to a report in InnovationNewsDaily on Monday, Aerofex has resurrected 1960s research technology which had been abandoned due to stability problems (Video still: Aerofex)
Aerofex has no immediate plans to commercially launch a manned hover bike but instead sees the technology as a test platform for new unmanned drones (Video still: Aerofex)
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Aerofex has no immediate plans to commercially launch a manned hover bike but instead sees the technology as a test platform for new unmanned drones (Video still: Aerofex)
Aeroflex claims its hover bike allows the pilot intuitive control over pitch, roll and yaw without need of artificial intelligence, flight software or electronics of any kind (Video still: Aerofex)
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Aeroflex claims its hover bike allows the pilot intuitive control over pitch, roll and yaw without need of artificial intelligence, flight software or electronics of any kind (Video still: Aerofex)
According to a report in InnovationNewsDaily on Monday, Aerofex has resurrected 1960s research technology which had been abandoned due to stability problems (Video still: Aerofex)
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According to a report in InnovationNewsDaily on Monday, Aerofex has resurrected 1960s research technology which had been abandoned due to stability problems (Video still: Aerofex)
Aerofex has no immediate plans to commercially launch a manned hover bike but instead sees the technology as a test platform for new unmanned drones (Video still: Aerofex)
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Aerofex has no immediate plans to commercially launch a manned hover bike but instead sees the technology as a test platform for new unmanned drones (Video still: Aerofex)

Videos released by California-based tech research company Aerofex appear to show successful test flights of a prototype hover bike that gains lift from two large ducted rotors, similar in principle to Chris Malloy's Hoverbike prototype we've previously covered. Aeroflex claims its hover bike allows the pilot intuitive control over pitch, roll and yaw without need of artificial intelligence, flight software or electronics of any kind.

According to a report in InnovationNewsDaily on Monday, Aerofex has resurrected 1960s research technology which had been abandoned due to stability problems. The company has apparently rectified the issue with the addition of knee-level "control bars" on either side of the vehicle that make the vehicle more responsive to the pilot's movements.

"It essentially captures the translations between the two in three axis (pitch, roll and yaw), and activates the aerodynamic controls required to counter the movement—which lines the vehicle back up with the pilot," Aerofex founder Mark De Roche told InnovationNewsDaily. "Since [the pilot's] balancing movements are instinctive and constant, it plays out quite effortlessly to him."

InnovationNewsDaily reports that although the hover bike is capable of greater altitudes and speeds, test flights to date have been limited to 30 mph (48 km/h) and 15 feet (4.6 meters) for safety reasons.

In recent days and weeks Aerofex has released a number of videos on its Youtube channel and "flightlog" Tumblr page. A video uploaded to the latter back in March appears to show the prototype losing control during a test flight on February 13 2010. "It would take 16 months, two inventions, and 41 field tests before we were back in the air," the caption reads. "The result of that effort on control would be dramatic. Our take-away: Fail sooner and never again test on Friday the 13th." My calendar indicates that Friday 13, 2010 was a Saturday. Subsequent videos appear to show more successful tests.

According to InnovationNewsDaily, Aerofex has no immediate plans to commercially launch a manned hover bike but instead sees the technology as a test platform for new unmanned drones. Outlets including Fox and Yahoo! News have since picked up InnovationNewsDaily's story, and there appears to be no suggestion from any quarter at this stage that the authenticity of the videos is in question. Here's a sample video. You be the judge.

Sources: Aerofex, InnovationNewsDaily

Tandem-Duct Aerial Demonstrator

27 comments
Jonathon Marks
If that is real that is awesome and I want one!
SteveZ
Yeah, it's cool, but I'd hate to have one park next to me kicking up all those stones. Or worse yet, hate to own one and get it FOD'ed out with debris sucked into the fans.
cachurro
First of all, the video does not look real to me. And second, adding a skirt will dramatically increase fuel efficiency and stability. And then you have a proven ol' hovercraft. Nothing new. Really.
Tom Arr
Even if it is real, this tech makes such a mess, and would require everyone around to wear a duster and face mask to deal with it.
VoiceofReason
Yeah....intuitive flight controls.....that's why it needs 41 flight tests before getting back in the air. I really would like to ride, own and test one, but from watching the test pilot struggle. I'll pass. What's wrong with adding a simple gyroscope or two for stability?
bas
Made for hover only. Do not exeed 10cm of altitude. Use only in wide open spaces. Do not, ever, use the Hoverbike in traffic. Have medical personnel ready at all times while using the Hoverbike. Do not operate the Hoverbike near to persons or property. Have... etcetera.
William H Lanteigne
Having four ducted fans above the body of the vehicle would make it more stable (cant the fans' rotational axes inward a few degrees for more stablity). Power it with a turbocharged aluminum block Chev V8 (inexpensive powerplant). Control direction and yaw with vanes in the ducts, if the vehicle is otherwise stable there would be no need to control pitch or roll. You could get all kinds of complicated if you like, but this could be done really simple; simple is cheaper and more reliable.
Niner Nation
I personally would prefer four fans for balance.
Slowburn
re; VoiceofReason I agree gyroscopic stabilization is the way to go. You need two wheels otherwise you just fall 90 degrees away from the direction of the "push".
Timothy Jahn
So it kicks up a little gravel and grit. still have to load chase scene music from Johhny Quest and ride one of these