Aircraft

Project Formula: Russian hoverbike creators take aim at VTOL flying car

Project Formula: Russian hover...
Hoversurf's Project Forumla: soaring above the freeways, that's the dream
Hoversurf's Project Forumla: soaring above the freeways, that's the dream
View 13 Images
Hoversurf's Project Forumla: fits into a single car space
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Hoversurf's Project Forumla: fits into a single car space
Hoversurf's Project Forumla: looks a bit like the Scorpion bike from side on
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Hoversurf's Project Forumla: looks a bit like the Scorpion bike from side on
Hoversurf's Project Forumla: it's unclear whether there's wheels underneath it, or whether they're driven
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Hoversurf's Project Forumla: it's unclear whether there's wheels underneath it, or whether they're driven
Hoversurf's Project Forumla: compact profile for a 4-seat aircraft
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Hoversurf's Project Forumla: compact profile for a 4-seat aircraft
Hoversurf's Project Forumla: the 4 fans on the back act as a pusher prop when the aircraft is in winged flight mode
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Hoversurf's Project Forumla: the 4 fans on the back act as a pusher prop when the aircraft is in winged flight mode
Hoversurf's Project Forumla: soaring above the freeways, that's the dream
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Hoversurf's Project Forumla: soaring above the freeways, that's the dream
Hoversurf's Project Forumla: a design straight out of science fiction
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Hoversurf's Project Forumla: a design straight out of science fiction
Hoversurf's Project Forumla: my other car is a plane
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Hoversurf's Project Forumla: my other car is a plane
Hoversurf's Project Forumla: 3D commuting using electric power
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Hoversurf's Project Forumla: 3D commuting using electric power
Hoversurf's Project Forumla: do those skids fold over in winged flight mode?
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Hoversurf's Project Forumla: do those skids fold over in winged flight mode?
Hoversurf's Project Forumla: maybe, someday.
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Hoversurf's Project Forumla: maybe, someday.
Hoversurf's Project Forumla: vertical commuting for 4
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Hoversurf's Project Forumla: vertical commuting for 4
Hoversurf's Project Forumla: wait a minute, how did it land with the skids turned sideways?
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Hoversurf's Project Forumla: wait a minute, how did it land with the skids turned sideways?

The Russian team that brought us the terrifying Scorpion Hoverbike (now being flown by the Dubai police department) is working toward a 5-seater VTOL air taxi. The Formula Project concept from Hoversurf uses fold-away wings and 52 tiny turbine Venturi propulsion units for a combination of VTOL convenience, winged efficiency and a compact form factor.

Details are fairly scant at this point, but here's what we know: The Formula Project is a vehicle designed to fit in a single car space, once its wings are folded up. The designers consider this a key point, as early flying car type designs are going to need to work with the way our cities are currently built, which typically doesn't include a lot of aircraft hangars.

Hoversurf's Project Forumla: it's unclear whether there's wheels underneath it, or whether they're driven
Hoversurf's Project Forumla: it's unclear whether there's wheels underneath it, or whether they're driven

Forty-eight small electric thrusters handle the VTOL/multicopter style flight mode. They look like no more than 8 or 10 inches in diameter. These are a proprietary Venturi turbine design; hopefully they work better than Venturi designs do in wind energy harvesting, which is not very well. But the Venturi effect would appear to be minimal here anyway.

Hoversurf's Project Forumla: vertical commuting for 4
Hoversurf's Project Forumla: vertical commuting for 4

There are a few key benefits in comparison to big ol' props, though. Firstly, they're completely shrouded by the body of the vehicle, making them much less likely than the Scorpion to end up blending a bystander. Secondly, redundancy. This thing should fly even if half its thrusters have failed. Providing that half is conveniently distributed across the airframe, we'd presume. And thirdly, they'll at least make a different annoying noise than one large helicopter prop or 18 smaller ones, a la the Volocopter.

Once the wings fold out, the aircraft enters a very efficient cruise mode, using just four pusher turbines on the back for longer range flights. There's a safety aspect here too; once you're flying as a winged aircraft you've got the capacity to glide down to Earth in a power failure situation. That'll probably take some proper piloting skills, mind you. And the team is looking into fitting some kind of ballistic parachute to take the jolt out of a drop from a hover.

Hoversurf's Project Forumla: maybe, someday.
Hoversurf's Project Forumla: maybe, someday.

The apparent lack of wheels could make this thing a pain to push around on the ground, and there's some suggestion in the images we're looking at that the landing skids will fold in depending on which flight mode you're in.

That's about what we know of the concept design at this stage, apart from the fact it looks pretty cool. According to the Hoversurf team, they're currently looking for investors to take the project to prototype stage and beyond. And heck, they've already taken the Scorpion hoverbike further than we'd have thought possible in a short amount of time, so I wouldn't bet against them.

Source: Project Formula

8 comments
PaleDale
Interesting, but I can't see those 4 little fans at the back providing enough thrust for forward flight. If they were gas turbine engines they would still struggle but be far better than the EDF's. It will also glide like a brick (very high wing loading) and with no motors you lose all control, I can't see any elevator, aileron or rudder control surfaces. Perhaps the entire wings twist individually. I know, its an early concept. I look forward to seeing where this goes.
vince
Are the Russians smarter than us?
Bruce H. Anderson
The author says "early flying car type designs are going to need to work with the way our cities are currently built, which typically doesn't include a lot of aircraft hangars." It also doesn't include a lot of helipads, which a VTOL needs at each end.
ljaques
OOH, badass looking little vehicle. ME WANT! Ditto PaleDale's Q re control surfaces. And I get everything about it except the angled shapes on the bases under the exhaust, which would redirect the downward force by 45 degrees or so, creating chaotic turbulence around the vehicle. Yeah, really, really looking forward to seeing this one come to fruition. The only problem with aircars is that it would be humans piloting them. Watch any dashcam vid on Youtube and tell me that's a good idea. ;)
Lardo
2018 RIO Award nominee. (For those unaware... the RIO Award is given each year, by me, for the flashiest, and most outrageous, aviation scam (designed only to separate investors from their money) at EAA Oshkosh. It's called the RIO Award because that's where the "inventors" generally abscond too. This one looks promising.
Nik
It looks to have all the aerodynamics of a garden wheelbarrow, and the wings dont look strong enough to support my aunts geriatric tom cat, never mind itself and two fat adults! This is an artists fantasy, nothing more. Good luck to anyone willing to throw their money at it. A fool and their money are easily.....etc.
irina
The funniest part is that these Russians didn't only come up with this idea of VTLOs, but also created a decantralized blockchain-based platform for AirTaxi. By the way, they called it McFly (http://mcfly.aero/token?utm_source=na) if you know what I mean.
Tom Lee Mullins
I think that is very neat. It looks very futuristic.