Coming soon: A Star Wars-like speeder bike?
The video: If you've ever dreamed of whizzing through the desert on a Star Wars-style speeder bike, you may soon get your wish. A team of aerospace engineers from a California company called Aerofex have built and tested a fully functional hoverbike that looks like a prop straight out of Return of the Jedi. In lieu of anti-gravity engines, the vehicle flies using enclosed helicopter rotors and a specially designed control system that allows first-timers to ride without any training, kind of like an ATV. (Watch a demo below.) Now the team is hoping to sell the flying bike, which has a max speed of 30 mph and elevates up to 15 feet, to the military, noting that the vehicle could prove useful for squeezing supplies through tight, helicopter-defying spaces or for traversing muddy terrain without leaving any tracks.
The reaction: While it looks high tech, the bike's design actually dates back to the 1960s, but was abandoned due to stability problems, says Jeremy Hsu at Live Science. This version, however, utilizes an intuitive, completely mechanical steering system — controlled by two handlebars at knee-level — that "allows the vehicle to respond to a human pilot's leaning movements and natural sense of balance." "This is insane," says Jesus Diaz at Gizmodo. And just think: As slow as the bike looks now, this is just the first version, and the flying speeder bike will inevitably get much faster. Now, the only things we need are "light sabers, golden robots with English accents, and hyperspace engines." Take a look: