Do you have $85,000 and want to impress all your friends? Is your lifelong dream to ride a speedbike from Star Wars? Then you should check out the Aerofex hoverbike, Aero-X. This contraption is about the size of a small car, but much cooler than any sports car of a comparable size and price.
Aero-X is technically a crossover vehicle: it works like a hovercraft, but riding it feels like a motorcycle. It's meant to be used like an all-terrain vehicle — think riding through the desert or fields where there are no roads. It's a pretty speedy contraption, capable of reaching 45 miles per hour, though much slower than a motorcycle or sports car. The navigation is very similar to a motorcycle, so the rider won't need any pilot training. It can hover as high as 20 feet off the ground.
This is definitely a toy for (rich) grownups, but the company does believe there are some real world applications for it. CTO and founder Mark DeRoche told BBC he believes it could be used by farmers, for agriculture and herding animals, by emergency services for search and rescue missions, and even by border patrol officers. Right now, Aerofex is speaking with the U.S. government about potential uses, as well as looking into an unmanned version of the hoverbike that would operate as basically a giant, fancier drone.
While you don't need any pilot training to ride the hoverbike, they will have a computer system built in to help guide the pilot. This will be especially useful for extreme and emergency situations. Just like a car can have brakes that automatically kick in when hydroplaning, the hoverbike needs protection against sudden strong winds. The engine is also designed with safety in mind. Aero-X has a custom rotary engine. It allows the blades to continue rotating, even if the engine stops running, allowing for a soft emergency landing.
If you feel compelled to own one of these things, and happen to have $85,000, you can put a $5,000 deposit on one now. It won't ship until 2017, sadly, but that's basically a guarantee that come 2017, you and I can hang out because I will want to drive your hoverbike.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.