Over in the UK one company is working on a project to develop a hoverbike and they have launched the project on Kickstarter to raise funds. The funding goal has not only been achieved but exceeded and there is still a couple of days left on it.
The manned version of the hoverbike is the thing that has been getting all the attention, however, it is the drones at one third scale that was the focus of the Kickstarter project initially. The quadcopter drone has an anthropomorphic figure that was 3D printed and which has the name of Cyborg Buster. The model rider comes with a GoPro camera fitted onto his head. The idea of it is that the drone can follow the pilot along a flight path that has been pre-determined and can perform automatic take-off and landings. Three different versions of the hoverbike have been made. There is the original design which comes with two motors and which is manned, there is the quadcopter drone and then there is the 2nd prototype of the hoverbike, which the designers are still working on. Due to the Kickstarter campaign there has been quite a lot said about the drone. Up to now the vehicle that can be manned has been a bit of a mystery. We are still a long way off from the prototype being completed; however it is already a very imposing sight. The frame of the quadrotor does look like those on the drones, but they are more angular shaped and have been designed in aircraft-grade aluminium along with carbon sheets. The manned vehicles design has been thought out very well and it does come with some interesting design points. These include the central section with its adjustable weighting, ensuring that the balancing is correct regardless of the physique of the pilot. Others include the offset rotor placement and the self-cutting rotor channel. When in the rotor-less state, as it is at the current time, the insides of the circular protective blade housing is filled with UV stabilized polycarbonate. However, when the rotors have been fitted in place they will be able to cut through the material and thereby create a channel that will help to reduce clearance between the top of the propeller and the duct wall.The four rotors have the offset design and this allows for the protection frame on the blades to be used for mounting on the other. This allows the vehicle to have a profile that is narrow, which is essential for being able to deal with terrains that could be difficult One of the biggest challenges facing Chris Malloy and his team is the scepticism from the public, along with the challenge of being able to bring together technology that exists into a safe and practical vehicle, whilst keeping attention on its economical value The team decided to go with the quad rotor instead of the dual rotor due to stability. While the design of the original Hoverbike was very eye catching, there were problems with it when it came to practicality. One of these was the fact that when the bike reached a certain angle when turning, it was extremely hard for the driver to right it again. The quadcopter design does away with this problem as the thrust of the four rotors vary, giving it more stability. The name, the Hoverbike, can be misleading as the bike is not a hovercraft. Instead it has been designed to travel at altitudes of thousands of feet in the air and the forward momentum is of course significant. The hoverbike will have autopilot capabilities, just as the drone version does, but it can also be manned, throwing the risk of human error into the mix.
As it comes with an autopilot function it offers the opportunity of remotely controlling the craft and so it could be used for supply drops along with taking part in search and rescue operations over terrain that is difficult to traverse.
The Kickstarter project has exceeded the goal that was set and there has been talks of funding outside of Kickstarter, so the project’s design is going at full speed. When the campaign is completed, the team behind the project plans on selling the quadcopter drones along with testing a manned vehicle in the months to follow.