Aerofex test flight of their "Hover-bike" (via Aerofex)
Aerofex’s conceptual prototype hover-bike has been in development since 2008, and the company has recently released a couple of YouTube videos of their ‘test-bed vehicle’ (so new it does not even have a name yet) to showcase the bikes ‘proof-of-flight’. Their design features 2 ducted fans to generate lift as well as drive with the driver providing yaw and pitch to maintain balance (much like a motorcycle rider would) without requiring a computer system to maintain stability. While not much is known about the hover-bike (engine, fan-blade design or even throttle system), their current iteration is capable of cruising along at 30mph with an altitude of 15 feet, which might not sound like much but it’s certainly an accomplishment in the hover-bike world.
This isn’t the first venture into the hover world however as the US military has been trying to develop a one-man hover vehicle since the late 1940’s, such as De Lackner HZ-1 Aerocycle and the Hiller VZ-1 Pawnee (with 2 opposing rotors). Both of these vehicles were designed for use by one person, but their respective designs featured a helicopter-styled rotor mounted to the bottom of the craft while the pilot stood on-top to control the vehicle in much the same manner as Aerofex’s hover-bike in terms of balance. Both hover vehicles were to be used by any infantry man with only 20 minutes of instruction; however this turned out to be untrue with testing and resulted in catastrophic failure more than once. The HZ-1 was extremely dangerous to fly because of the open-bladed design (strong possibility of losing your legs) as well as having no back-up systems while the VZ-1 had a habit of flexing the contra-rotating blades which would smack each-other resulting in the craft simply falling out of the sky.
While the Aerofex hover-bike has yet to reach the height or speed of its predecessors it is a lot safer and more reliable over past designs. After more refinement could be used in the future as a first-responder vehicle for area’s inaccessible by roads, cattle mustering or border patrol (no word yet if it will adapted for Jedi use against the Empire).