Bicycles

Czech engineers set to build six-prop Flying Bike

Czech engineers set to build s...
A team of enthusiasts from a number of Czech companies has designed a flying bicycle with six propellers for lift and stability, and is about to start building the FBike ahead of scheduled test flights in August
A team of enthusiasts from a number of Czech companies has designed a flying bicycle with six propellers for lift and stability, and is about to start building the FBike ahead of scheduled test flights in August
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The FBike's 50Ah Lithium-polymer batteries are positioned below the crossbar of the roughly mountain bike-shaped light alloy frame
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The FBike's 50Ah Lithium-polymer batteries are positioned below the crossbar of the roughly mountain bike-shaped light alloy frame
A team of enthusiasts from a number of Czech companies has designed a flying bicycle with six propellers for lift and stability, and is about to start building the FBike ahead of scheduled test flights in August
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A team of enthusiasts from a number of Czech companies has designed a flying bicycle with six propellers for lift and stability, and is about to start building the FBike ahead of scheduled test flights in August
Four 10kW compact brushless electric motors drive the 51-inch diameter front and back twin propellers
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Four 10kW compact brushless electric motors drive the 51-inch diameter front and back twin propellers
Telescopic dampers and so-called winter wheels with a chunky tire profile smooth out the landing
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Telescopic dampers and so-called winter wheels with a chunky tire profile smooth out the landing
Rendering showing the composite casing housing front and back twin propellers, and stabilizing props at each side
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Rendering showing the composite casing housing front and back twin propellers, and stabilizing props at each side
Early climb-in frame design that was abandoned due to problems with rider/pilot position and mount/dismount
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Early climb-in frame design that was abandoned due to problems with rider/pilot position and mount/dismount
Under each side propeller unit is a telescopic damper that extends before take-off and at landing to ensure balance
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Under each side propeller unit is a telescopic damper that extends before take-off and at landing to ensure balance
Top view of the twin prop units at the front and rear
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Top view of the twin prop units at the front and rear
Rider view of the twin prop at the front and the onboard information display panel
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Rider view of the twin prop at the front and the onboard information display panel
Top view of the FBike design that will shortly be made real by the Czech engineers from Technodat, Evektor and Duratec
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Top view of the FBike design that will shortly be made real by the Czech engineers from Technodat, Evektor and Duratec
When on the ground, the FBike will have all of the features commonly seen on everyday pedal bikes - the side props and telescopic stabilizers can be rotated 90 degrees to provide the rider with a boost if needed
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When on the ground, the FBike will have all of the features commonly seen on everyday pedal bikes - the side props and telescopic stabilizers can be rotated 90 degrees to provide the rider with a boost if needed
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From the Jetsons to Back To The Future, hopping onto or into a personal flying vehicle has been on the engineering "To Do" list for a good many years. We've seen a number of noteworthy attempts at defying gravity and taking to the skies here at Gizmag (many of which are featured in this roundup from 2010) and now another possible addition to that growing collection has landed on our desk. Known simply as the Flying Bike (or FBike), this collaborative effort from a bunch of Czech companies and enthusiasts is still very much in the early stages of development, but the proposal is to fit a number of electrically-driven propellers to the custom frame of a two-wheeler that will allow the pilot to rise above the traffic for as long as the batteries hold out.

The FBike project began in the autumn of 2011 with a proposal to create an e-bike, but enthusiasts from Czech companies Technodat, Evektor and Duratec set their sights on loftier designs instead. Inspired by the stories of Jules Verne and Czech author Jaroslav Foglar (who penned a trilogy of works featuring a flying bike invented by a young apprentice locksmith), project members Jan Cinert, Jindrich Vítu, Martin Dršticka, Michal Krivan, Filip Plešinger, Milan Duchek and Jozef Lajda have been using 3D modeling tools from Dassault Systèmes to create a number of concept renderings of a multicopter bicycle (think somewhere between Chris Malloy's Hoverbike, the Gamera human-powered helicopter and Larry Neal's Super Sky Cycle). It would operate exactly like a normal bike while on the ground, but would also be capable of vertical take-off and landing - and of course, flight.

Early climb-in frame design that was abandoned due to problems with rider/pilot position and mount/dismount
Early climb-in frame design that was abandoned due to problems with rider/pilot position and mount/dismount

An early design featured eight propellers mounted to the bike, but two of the stabilizing propellers have been sacrificed to cut down the weight of vehicle. Calculations by FBike engineers have shown that four 10kW compact brushless electric motors for the 1300 mm (51-inch) diameter front and back twin propellers surrounded by composite casing and two 3.5kW stabilized motors for the 650 mm (25.5-inch) blades at the side should be enough for vertical lift-off (which will be performed from a static position rather than while on the move) and flight.

"Theoretical power needed to lift a weight of 5-grams (0.17 ounces) is about 1-watt," explained Vítu. "We have in total 47kW of power (and the motor can be overloaded for a short time), so theoretically the maximum lifting force is 2350N (235kg/518 pounds). The flight weight has been determined as 170kg (374 pounds), including the pilot, the difference being the losses (efficiencies of the components) and some for a power backup."

The current design features 50Ah Lithium-polymer batteries positioned below the crossbar of the roughly mountain bike-shaped light alloy frame. They're arranged in ten accumulator blocks positioned one above another, each containing 14 cells connected in series, and will weigh more than 20 kg (44 pounds).

Under each side propeller unit is a telescopic damper that extends before take-off and at landing to ensure balance
Under each side propeller unit is a telescopic damper that extends before take-off and at landing to ensure balance

When on the ground, the FBike will have all of the features commonly seen on everyday pedal bikes. The side props and telescopic stabilizer, though, can be rotated 90 degrees to provide the rider with a boost if needed. According to Vítu, the four main motors will be disconnected from the batteries in this mode. When the rider pulls over to prepare for take-off, the side props are returned to the horizontal position to ensure maximum force is applied to lift the bike off the ground, and telescopic dampers are extended for balance. The rider's feet will be placed on supports during the flight.

Vítu also told us that gyroscopes and accelerometers housed in an onboard control unit will keep stability in check, automatically adjusting the speed of each propeller for a smooth and steady flight. As there are to be no mechanical parts for controlling the flight, he says that forward motion of the vehicle while in the air would be achieved as with a helicopter. It's expected that the FBike will be capable of a flight time of three to five minutes, or an assisted ride time on terra firma of between 30 and 50 minutes per charge.

"We have completed the final design and are about to start with the production," Vítu told us. "The very last thing to be done is to select LiPol batteries manufacturer. So we are expecting the production will start this or next week. It follows the 3D model presented at the press conference held on 24th May."

A special composite seat has been designed to cater for the rider, to be strapped into the vehicle for safety and comfort. Work on the control unit and related elements is still being considered, with options including the installation of a third-party box unit integrating the main unit and sensors or an in-house, tailor-made solution.

flying bike: CATIA V6

The FBike team states that the vehicle is not expected to ever go into production, it's just being created for marketing purposes. Vítu has revealed that the first flight tests are expected to take place in mid-August, so we'll bring you more on this project then.

Source: FBike

View gallery - 12 images
13 comments
Mark Temple
the bicycle wheels seem like a pointless addition to this vehicle. you wouldn't be able to ride it on the ground safely with those lift fans, and landing on two wheels would be rather unsafe, so why go with two wheels? a four wheel platform would be more stable on the ground, and easier and safer to land after a flight.
yrag
Agreed Mark—this looks like a 21rst century version of old films of comically wacky flying machines at the dawn of the 20th century.
VoiceofReason
The very definition of vaporware.
Edgar Castelo
Vapourware.
Clay Jones
Isn't this called a helicopter?
habakak
The flight weight has been determined as 170kg (374 pounds), including the pilot, the difference being the losses (efficiencies of the components) and some for a power backup." I would optimistically estimate this contraption to weight about 150 pounds at a MINIMUM. Now all that is needed for success is a pilot weighing in under 20 pounds.
wle
no way. would i. ever get on. that thing.
jerryd
The only viable method is 2 large as possible counter rotating rotors, no ducts, above on a trike frame as no one could ride it or the example as a bicycle. Lift/thrust depends on rotor loading so not set. Using 2 10' blades would give them at least 2x's the lifting power of their design at 50% of the weight of rotor system. Plus reliability is 5-10x's better by many fewer parts. One would have to wonder if these designers have ridden bikes or helicopters or just have some good smoke..
Dawar Saify
The easiest method is a helicopter with everything folding, converting to a car on landing with engine Power diverted. Its that easy.
Nicholas Wolff
This looks familiar, you should check out this aussie guys work; http://www.gizmag.com/hoverbike/18813/