You may have seen the Hoverbike on Kickstarter; in just a day, it’s racked up thousands of dollars. And, in fact, the Kickstarter might be worth contributing to. But there are some questions this hoverbike raises we want some answers to, specifically three of them.
How Much Money Is Actually Going To The Hoverbike?
This isn’t one of those pie-in-the-sky Kickstarters, where you throw somebody $50 and get a cheap T-shirt in return. Contribute roughly $800, and you’ll get a one-third scale bare-bones hoverbike drone of your very own. So that’s pretty cool, and the Venn-diagram style of the fans is visually arresting, if nothing else.
That said, building, shipping, and selling drones isn’t cheap, and you have to wonder exactly how much of the actual Kickstarter is going towards building the full-sized model of this thing. Especially since that’s kind of the entire goal of the Kickstarter in the first place; the drones are neat but the ambition is to build the full-sized bike.
What Are The Physics Of This New Bike?
It’s not really a question of whether or not this hoverbike actually works. Although there isn’t much video online of this particular hoverbike, the basic design is something it’s fairly easy to look up. Ducted-fan hovering vehicles have been around since roughly the 1960s. So the design works. We know it works. It’s largely a question of fuel efficiency, cost, and safety at this point.
Which to us brings up the question… OK, the physics of this drone obviously work. But what happens when you scale this design up and throw a human on it. The weight is obviously going to need to increase in order of this to happen; even with modern materials and motors, there’s only so much weight you can shave off a design at this point. So, what’s the physics, here? And finally, that leads us to the next question…
What Are Some Realistic Performance Expectations?
Part of the reason we don’t fly around on ducted fan vehicles already is that they’re enormous power hogs that generally need a fairly flat surface in order to properly operate. We’re not really talking about hovercrafts, here; those coast on a cushion of air, but these need constant downward force to keep flying.
So can this go all-terrain? How high can it go before you return to Earth? How far can it range before you have to refuel? Does it use fuel at all, or is there a plan to make this entirely electric? And, of course, what will it all cost when it’s done?
Of course, we don’t expect precise details on this, since he hasn’t even built the next model yet. Still, it’s stuff we’ll want to keep in mind, as the promise of a hoverbike gets ever closer. After all, we’re not paying for a drone that an action figure can ride, we’re paying for the research and development to zip around like Luke. So, we need concrete answers to our insane pop culture fantasies!
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.