Aircraft

A closer look at the Malloy Aeronautics Hoverbike

From left to right: the second prototype Hoverbike, the drone (in flight), and the original dual-rotor prototype (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
From left to right: the second prototype Hoverbike, the drone (in flight), and the original dual-rotor prototype (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
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The inside of the circular, protective blade housing is filled with UV-stabilized polycarbonate (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
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The inside of the circular, protective blade housing is filled with UV-stabilized polycarbonate (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
The drone version of the Hoverbike is available through a Kickstarter project, and later by means of the company's website (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
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The drone version of the Hoverbike is available through a Kickstarter project, and later by means of the company's website (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
The full-sized Hoverbike is an imposing sight (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
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The full-sized Hoverbike is an imposing sight (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
The drone Hoverbike above the first and second prototypes of the manned vehicle (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
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The drone Hoverbike above the first and second prototypes of the manned vehicle (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
The quadcopter drone can be accompanied by an anthropomorphic, 3D printed figure, known as Cyborg Buster (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
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The quadcopter drone can be accompanied by an anthropomorphic, 3D printed figure, known as Cyborg Buster (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
A close up of the second prototype Hoverbike (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
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A close up of the second prototype Hoverbike (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
The offset design of the four rotors allows the vehicle to keep its narrow profile, making it practical for negotiating difficult terrain (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
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The offset design of the four rotors allows the vehicle to keep its narrow profile, making it practical for negotiating difficult terrain (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
The second prototype Hoverbike is still under construction (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
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The second prototype Hoverbike is still under construction (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
A close up of the second prototype Hoverbike (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
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A close up of the second prototype Hoverbike (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
The work in progress MK2 Hoverbike (left), and original design (right) (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
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The work in progress MK2 Hoverbike (left), and original design (right) (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
The first prototype of the vehicle featured a dual rotor setup (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
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The first prototype of the vehicle featured a dual rotor setup (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
There is a space is Cyborg Buster's head specifically designed for a GoPro camera (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
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There is a space is Cyborg Buster's head specifically designed for a GoPro camera (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
The drone quadcopter sat atop the incomplete manned vehicle (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
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The drone quadcopter sat atop the incomplete manned vehicle (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
The drone serves as a proof of concept for the full-sized vehicle (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
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The drone serves as a proof of concept for the full-sized vehicle (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
Both the drone and full-sized vehicle feature autopilots (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
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Both the drone and full-sized vehicle feature autopilots (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
The quadcopter drone hovering at low altitude (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
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The quadcopter drone hovering at low altitude (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
The quadcopter drone in flight (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
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The quadcopter drone in flight (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
When the Hoverbike is complete, there will be adjustable weighting in the central section to ensure correct balancing regardless of pilot physique (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
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When the Hoverbike is complete, there will be adjustable weighting in the central section to ensure correct balancing regardless of pilot physique (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
The drone version of the vehicle in flight, complete with Cyborg Buster (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
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The drone version of the vehicle in flight, complete with Cyborg Buster (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
The design of the first prototype differs significantly from the second (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
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The design of the first prototype differs significantly from the second (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
Hoverbikes MK1 (close) and MK2 (far) (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
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Hoverbikes MK1 (close) and MK2 (far) (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
The quadrotor design affords the vehicle significant stability (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
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The quadrotor design affords the vehicle significant stability (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
From left to right: the second prototype Hoverbike, the drone (in flight), and the original dual-rotor prototype (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
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From left to right: the second prototype Hoverbike, the drone (in flight), and the original dual-rotor prototype (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)

Last month we covered the launch of an interesting Kickstarter project that aimed to jump-start sales of a drone version of a fully-functional hover bike. The quadcopter drone acts as a proof of concept for the full-sized manned vehicle, with proceeds from the crowdfunding effort intended to fuel the continued development of the final vehicle. Gizmag visited the Malloy Aeronautics workshop in the UK to take a closer look at the Hoverbike project.

With more than a week remaining before the Kickstarter campaign concludes, its funding goal has been exceeded and development is moving forward at pace. Though the manned Hoverbike is what tends to garner the most attention, the one third scale drones are actually the focus of the Kickstarter effort.

The quadcopter drone can be accompanied by an anthropomorphic, 3D-printed figure known as Cyborg Buster, which features a space to fit a GoPro camera in its head. The drone is capable of following the pilot, following a predetermined flight path, and even has the ability to perform automatic take-off and landing maneuvers.

The drone version of the Hoverbike is available through a Kickstarter project, and later by means of the company's website (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
The drone version of the Hoverbike is available through a Kickstarter project, and later by means of the company's website (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)

At this stage, there are three versions of the Hoverbike. The original two rotor manned vehicle, the quadcopter drone, and the still-in-development second prototype Hoverbike.

Thanks to the crowdfunding campaign, we’ve seen quite a lot of the drone, but the full-sized vehicle, in its MK2 state, has remained something of a mystery. Though we’re still a few months out from seeing the finished prototype, the full-sized Hoverbike is already an imposing sight. The quadrotor frame is similar to the drones offered on Kickstarter, but decidedly more angular, constructed from a combination of carbon sheet and aircraft-grade aluminum.

The full-sized Hoverbike is an imposing sight (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
The full-sized Hoverbike is an imposing sight (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)

The design of the manned vehicle is cleverly thought out and features a number of interesting design points, such as adjustable weighting in the central section to ensure correct balancing regardless of pilot physique, a self-cutting rotor channel, and offset rotor placement.

In its current, rotor-less state, the inside of the circular, protective blade housing is filled with UV-stabilized polycarbonate (as pictured below). Once the rotors are fitted, they’ll cut through the material, creating a channel that reduces the clearance between the propeller top and duct wall.

The inside of the circular, protective blade housing is filled with UV-stabilized polycarbonate (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
The inside of the circular, protective blade housing is filled with UV-stabilized polycarbonate (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)

The offset design of the four rotors allows the protective frame around one of the blades to be used as a mounting for the other, meaning that the revised vehicle can keep its narrow profile, making it practical for negotiating difficult terrain.

Though the act of designing and creating a fully functional hover bike may seem technologically Herculean, there’s no practical barrier to making it happen, at least not with the quadrotor design Chris Malloy and his team are working on with the Hoverbike. While public skepticism may be a significant barrier, the real challenge is bringing together existing technology, while making the vehicle safe, practical and economically viable.

The move from a dual to quad rotor setup is all about stability. The original Hoverbike design was certainly eye-catching, but it suffered from significant practical problems – namely, that if it were to reach a certain angle in a turn, it would become difficult for the pilot to right the vehicle. This is no longer an issue with the quadcopter design, with the varying thrust of the four rotors affording the vehicle significant stability.

The work in progress MK2 Hoverbike (left), and original design (right) (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
The work in progress MK2 Hoverbike (left), and original design (right) (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)

If you find yourself talking to someone about a project such as this, one paramount area of concern that quickly arises is safety, and understandably so. Despite its name, the Hoverbike is not a hovercraft. It will travel up to altitudes in the thousands of feet, as well as achieve significant forward momentum.

One key piece of the puzzle here, and something that should assuage many safety concerns, is that the manned Hoverbike will be equipped with autopilot capabilities, just like the drone version. This means that though the vehicle can be piloted, a significant margin of human error can be removed from the equation.

The autopilot function also provides the option to remotely control the craft, making it well suited to supply drops, search and rescue operations over difficult terrain, and a whole host of other applications. From mountain rescue scenarios to Red Bull Air Race-esque sports applications, the list of potential uses for the vehicle seems practically endless.

The quadcopter drone in flight (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)
The quadcopter drone in flight (Photo: Chris Wood/Gizmag)

With the Kickstarter project having already exceeded its funding goal, and with murmurs of outside funding, the project is moving full steam ahead. Once the crowdfunding effort concludes on August 31, the team will continue to sell the quadcoptor drones, and plans to test the manned-vehicle within a few months.

If you’re interested in being part of the effort, then you can head over to the project’s Kickstarter page. For more images of the both the first and second prototypes of the Hoverbikes, and the quadcopter drone, head to the gallery.

Source: Malloy Aeronautics

17 comments
hummer boy
where is the engine compartment? if its not UNDER , it will suffer the same consequences as the "millieum Jet". good luck flying, seems like a good project.
Rehab
This is where all this is heading. Fantastic job. You could send a person on a flight and control it from the ground. Can't wait to see future follow ups.
Bob Flint
Will it include a parachute for both rider, & vehicle?
Bill Bennett
@Bob, just the vehicle, the rider went through the propellers causing the crash
JPAR
surely it would make more sense to sit under the thing, not on it?
Mel Tisdale
I assume that it is completely 'fly-by-wire' with stability maintenance built into the flight algorithm. If so then the only danger is something falling off the rider into the fans, such as a video camera, or a bird strike. Whatever it is would dramatically increase the much vaunted clearances between the fans and their housings! Unfortunately, working on the 'if it can happen, it will happen' principle, this eventuality will have to be catered for in the design This will both add weight and impede the airflow somewhat, probably to an unacceptable level, assuming that it is even possible, of course. As for a parachute, well, it would need to be explosively deployed to get it through the intake airflow and clear of the rotors, three of which might not only still be functioning, but also at full throttle in an attempt to maintain stability. I think Mr Malloy would find development of the drone version far more lucrative than continuing with the uphill battle to get the manned version operational, especially seeing just how popular drones are today, particularly with the military. Let's face it, one death because of a loose flight map falling into one of the rotors and all the hard work would come to naught in an instant with a CAA or NTSB grounding. That would a tragedy for the pilot and a shame for the venture.
Art Toegemann
This will need radar and computer to pilot the swarm.
Jay Finke
This is stuff you dream about when you are a kid, but then, you grow up and relies it's a pipe dream, and probably dangerous as H-E double toothpicks
Nelson Hyde Chick
And other than be a toy for the 1% what real function could something like this have? None!
Stephen N Russell
Love to see developed & then mass produced.