This is insane. I keep watching this video again and again, and my stupid grin won’t go away: a live demonstration of a real flying bike! Now we just need lightsabres, golden robots with English accents and hyperspace engines.
Developed by Aerofex in Manhattan Beach, California, the flying bike doesn’t use anti-gravity devices. Powerful fans and a special control scheme allows anyone to drive it without any training whatsoever. And it works great. Heck, it works beautifully.
The bike, which was demonstrated in the Mojave Desert, can now go at speeds of up to 48km/h and go as high as 4.5 metres.
Another company tried to do this in the ’60s, but they couldn’t solve the stability issues that made it impossible for a human to ride it safely. Now, aerospace engineer and Aerofex founder Mark De Roche and his team have found the secret sauce to make it all work: a new mechanical control system that, according to him, “captures the translations between the two in three axis (pitch, roll and yaw), and activates the aerodynamic controls required to counter the movement — which lines the vehicle back up with the pilot”.
The human pilot just has to lean and balance in a natural way, much like you do while riding a bicycle or a motorbike. It’s all instinctive, says De Roche. “Since [the pilot's] balancing movements are instinctive and constant, it plays out quite effortlessly to him.”
Sadly, it won’t be sold to the public just yet — Aerofex wants to sell it to the US military first. The company thinks that it can be used for heavy lifting in rough terrains without having to care about wheels or caterpillar tracks. And, unlike helicopters and other flying devices, this one can go through trees and canyons. De Roche says that they “have unique performance advantages though … as they have demonstrated flight within trees, close to walls and under bridges”.