Flying senators: Aerofex’s hover bike to be considered by US government

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Flying cars and vehicles have been imagined by futurists for decades, and have consistently been dismissed as fiction by those against the idea.

However, you can place an order for a working one today and receive it in three years.

The Aero-X bike, designed and built by Aerofex, can carry two people 10ft above the surface at speeds of up to 45mph. Although from Aerofex’s experience the most comfortable riding height is five feet above the ground.

The company says the pilots reference with the ground is very similar to riding a motorbike, so complex flying instruments are not necessary; it can also be flown over any surface.

We spoke to the company’s founder Mark De Roche to find out more about the potential for the bike.

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The bike can be used over private land and water and wherever off-highway vehicles are allowed. This is because surface effect vehicles and hovercraft are classified as off-highway vehicles and boats and in the US.

Roche said that there has been a huge amount of interest in the bike and its potential uses. This includes from the government.

“We are currently working on a robotic version for agriculture – specifically aerial application,” he said.

“We are also in talks with the US Government about creating some derivative vehicles for their applications.”

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The man behind the company says the technology used to create the bike is not intended to be used on the roads but for private use to help those who may need it the most.

Roche, who leads the company and is an aerospace engineer, said the technology could be used for larger transport vehicles.

He said: “We’ve designed the Aero-X as an aerial utility vehicle to be used by farmers, ranchers, and park and border patrol. It may also have industrial uses such as pipeline inspection and bridge maintenance.

“We also think it would be ideal for search and rescue as well as disaster relief. The technology itself is scalable to larger vehicles that could be used for transport, but that is beyond our current thinking.”

He also added that the company does not see the bike, which has an $85,000 price tag, being used on the roads, or by everyone.

“We do not envision the Aero-X as a means of transport or commuter vehicle,” he added.

“In fact, initial vehicles will not be categorized as off-road vehicles and will not be allowed to operate over roads.


This is an extract from a longer article in Issue 2 of Factor Magazine, which focuses on the future of everyday life. The magazine can be read for free online or by downloading the app for iPad.


All images courtesy of Aerofex.


Safety first: Automated technology moves cars closer to an accident-free future

A suite of smart technologies designed to prevent vehicle injuries are to become the most advanced automated safety features to ever come as standard on a car.

Announced by Volvo for its new XC90 SUV, the automated features include an auto-brake feature to prevent collisions at intersections and automatic safety measures in run-off road scenarios.

The technologies are part of the car company’s ambitious plan to ensure that no one is killed or seriously injured in one of its vehicles from 2020.

At present there is a wider move to automate some vehicle features by the automotive industry, with the intention of increasing safety and reducing the cost of insurance.

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In what Volvo claims is a world first, the XC90 can identify when a vehicle is leaving the roadway and take steps to reduce injury from a run-off road collision.

Upon detecting what is happening, the car automatically tightens the front seatbelts to keep the driver and passenger in position and prevent them being thrust forwards through the windscreen. The belts remain tight while the vehicle is in motion, only loosening once it has come to a complete stop.

This alone, however, would not prevent spinal injuries that can occur when a vehicle hits hard objects or ground, so the vehicle is also equipped with energy-absorbing seats. These cushion vertical forces from impact by up to a third, significantly reducing potential injury.

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In a second world-first, the vehicle is equipped with a feature to prevent collisions at intersections, such as city crossings or on highways.

Here if a driver turns in front of an oncoming car the automated system will kick in and apply the brakes, which will either prevent or significantly reduce the damage from a collision.

The auto-braking feature, dubbed City Safety, will also make its presence known if it detects a potential collision with a cyclist, pedestrian or another vehicle, which it can identify using a highly sensitive camera that can perform in any light.

Other safety features include a strengthened frame; 360° surround view courtesy of four fish-eye cameras and inflatable curtains that activate in a rollover situation to prevent head injuries.

The XC90 is unlikely to be alone in offering automated protection, and this kind of technology may in the future be required by law in some regions if it is found to have a significant impact on vehicle-related deaths, in much the same way as the seatbelt was.

It will no doubt prove popular with some drivers, particularly if it results in cheaper insurance premiums, but for some this automation may just be an erosion of freedom.


Images courtesy of Volvo.