The U.S. Department of Defense has issued a contract to develop the first truly functional “hoverbike” for the U.S. Armed Forces. Reuters reports that a deal was announced for British firm Malloy Aeronautics to build the futuristic vehicles in Maryland along with the U.S. defense R&D firm Survice.
The U.K. publication The Telegraph notes: “The hoverbike is built to do many of the same jobs as a helicopter, but without the problems inherent with helicopter design. It is cheaper, more rugged and easier to use, according to Malloy, and can be flown safely at low altitudes.”
The device appears well-suited for use in search-and-rescue efforts, first-responder emergency missions and activities that require the movement of cargo into confined areas.
Reuters quotes Grant Stapleton, marketing sales director for Malloy, saying: “There are a lot of advantages of the Hoverbike over a regular helicopter. Primarily there’s safety. With adducted rotors you immediately not only protect people and property if you were to bump into them, but if you ever were to bump into somebody or property it’s going to bring the aircraft out of the air.”
Reuters adds: “The full-scale Hoverbike features advanced stability and maneuverability, and can be controlled to fly by itself on a pre-determined flight path, return to home, loiter and follow the controller. It also features a humanoid figure that can be attached to it, complete with mini-cam mounted in its head.”
Stapleton notes: “It can do so much inexpensively and effectively as a multi-purpose product that can be flown manned or unmanned. … It can carry a decent load, it can get in and out of very small spaces very quickly and it can be moved across continents very quickly because it can be folded and packed into a C130 or onto a ship and taken; lots of them can be moved around and deployed in the places that you need them very easily and very quickly.”
Here’s a demonstration video using a scaled-down version of the hoverbike: