What started as crazy DIY project in an Australian backyard six years ago has now blossomed into a cutting-edge aircraft for the US Army. We've tracked the various iterations of the Malloy Hoverbike since inventor Chris Malloy first showed off a prototype in 2011, and now after teaming up the US Department of Defense the mechanical engineer has seen a military version of his little baby take flight, with officials hoping to use it for resupply missions to create an "Amazon on the battlefield."

The latest version of the oversized quadcopter might now have a suitably militarized moniker, joint tactical aerial resupply vehicle (JTARV), but is still known affectionately as a hoverbike, even in the US Army's press release.

Like the four-rotor vehicle we spied up close back in August 2014, the JTARV is an electric, rectangular-shaped quadcopter with the ability to do some heavy lifting.

In its current form the prototype is able carry 300 lb (136 kg), though army researchers are hoping to extend this by way of a hybrid propulsion system which could one day have it flying along at altitudes of thousands of feet and speeds of 60 mph (96 km/h).

"We're exploring increasing payload capacity to 800 lb (362 kg) and extending the range up to 125 miles (200 km)," said Tim Vong, associate chief of the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL). "We're also looking to integrate advanced intelligent navigation and mission planning. We're looking to end up with a modular, stable platform that can be used for even more dynamic and challenging missions."

On January 10, Department of Defense officials paid the ARL researchers a visit to see the JTARV in flight and up close. You can check it out for yourself in the video below.

Source: US Army

View gallery - 5 images