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Two companies take flight with hoverbikes

Hoversurf, BMW show prototype and concept, respectively, of flying bikes

Published: February 23, 2017, 2:30 AM
Updated: February 26, 2017, 4:43 AM

BMW Motorrad LEGO Hover Ride Design Concept

Scorpion-3

Mankind is still fascinated with flight. Remember when those drones first started popping up and everybody thought they were so revolutionary and had to have one? And those hoverboards (which didn’t really hover) and then those water-jet boards? And we’re still waiting for that flying car, though it looks as if flying bikes are just a heartbeat away.

Two companies have recently unveiled prototypes of hoverbikes, which will allow riders to do their best Stormtrooper impressions, hopefully without running into some mischievous Ewoks.

Russian startup Hoversurf has built the Scorpion-3 — a single-seat aircraft that looks like a cross between a motorcycle and a quadcopter drone, using joystick-like controls to give its pilot/rider the manoeuvrability to go just about anywhere, in any direction.

The electric craft is currently envisioned as a novelty for adventurous types (he kind who will used it in closed course, controlled conditions), but says it theoretically can be adapted for future transportation needs — personal travel, special deliveries from merchants, that sort of thing.

The controls are reportedly very easy to get used to by both “amateur and professional navigators,” though the software does take into account some autonomous controls (presumably to make it easier for the rider to concentrate on not hitting anything while also trying to keep the Scorpion-3 off the ground). For example, the software limits maximum speed and altitude.

BMW Motorrad LEGO Hover Ride Design Concept

The other company with a hand in the hoverbike dream is BMW, and though its model has more of a motorcycle look to it, it’s not yet ready to take flight.

Its involvement actually started as a collaboration with LEGO … yes, that LEGO, which wanted to offer a puzzle of BMW Motorrad’s best-selling R 1200 GS Adventure. LEGO Technik got a 603-piece puzzle together and then designers started wandering “what if,” and before you knew it, there was an alternate version of the puzzle bike, so kids could put together a miniature R 1200 or swap the wheels out and have a R1200 Hoverbike.

So, then the young-designer division of BMW (BMW Junior) got to thinking “what if,” and designed and built a life-size hover version of the R 1200 GS Adventure — the Hover Ride Design Concept. It uses many of the parts of the original R 1200 GS Adventure, and repurposes other components. For example, the front wheel rim has been used to create a propeller.

It’s currently on a tour of BMW and LEGO facilities, where it’s being displayed on a pedestal. The reason for that is because it doesn’t work, hence the name “design concept,” though it does take flight in images, thanks to the magic fairy-dust called Photoshop.

But someday …