Get Rid of the Wheels – Aerofex Hovercraft Indicates Potential

Aerofex hovercraftAbout a week ago, Aerofex put out an update about the latest developments and test flight of their hovercraft. It's a single seater with a motorcycle like rider position and, from the video, it definitely shows potential. I watched the videos and looked at the photos and drawings on their website and it's hard to draw any conclusions, yet.

These days, it isn't hard to take clear, high resolution photos and video, yet what they show is hard to see clearly, which is why I can't say much about it. The company has developed some unrelated products like a system for transporting horses in aircraft, a magnetic resistance bicycle trainer and a snowboard switchplate. Mark De Roche, aerospace engineer and CTO at Aerofex, presented a tech paper to the American Helicopter Society concerning Thrust Augmentation and Control of Ducted-Fan Aircraft, which seems to say they are trying to simplify the control of hovercraft like the one they're building.

This hovercraft has no computer control and software to stabilize the platform, it's something you have to learn to ride, like a bicycle, but once you do, they say it's fairly intuitive.

We've written about this sort of thing before, with motorcycle engine powered hovercraft and the more recent hoverbike, which really looks great but hasn't proved itself yet.

If this project from Aerofex works as they say and their next version is better than what you see here, it may have some interesting uses in search and rescue or patrol in areas without roads, or maybe not, but if they can get it running right, it could be a helluva lot of fun, if nothing else. Interesting.

Link: Aerofex via The Blaze

Check out the videos below - videos have no sound:

Comments

  1. Nicolas says

    I’m a pilot, I’m a biker. I always wanted to do both at the same time … this thing looks like a sh&t load of fun ! :-)

  2. fharmon says

    Hairy learning curve when you get the skids more than about 10″ offf the ground but once mastered….vvrrrrooooooooooommmmm!!!! Straight up and away! YEE-Haaaa!!!! Gimmie one, I’ll bounce around the playing field all day.

  3. B50 Jim says

    Right out of the pages of Popular Science — “Your flying motorcycle of the Future!”

    Yep, I’ll park one right next to my flying car they’ve been promising for the past 80 years. This thing looks like a handful for the experienced test rider, who seems barely able to control it at a fast walking speed. Excuse me for being skeptical, but we’ve seen stuff like this since the first hovercraft appeared. It really needs digital controls — it appears fundamentally unstable; what happens if it tilts a bit too far to one side? I’d guess it will shoot off sideways until it crashes or hits something.

    It reminds me of the first aircraft — they got off the ground but were hugely difficult to fly, and crashed often. Let me know when this concept works well enough that the average rider can operate it; then I’ll be interested.

  4. says

    “These days, it isn’t hard to take clear, high resolution photos and video, yet what they show is hard to see clearly…” I give them a pass on the video. That thing kicks up a crap-ton of dust out on that flat.

    • Mack says

      Not very. None of the bikes in star wars use giant fans, most are much more stable and easy to control, and most can go several hundred miles per hour. Basically the same level of similarity as a soyuz capsule to the Enterprise from star trek.

  5. todd says

    I think it will catch on with street sweepers and those parking lot cleaner guys. Looks like a ton of fun otherwise.

    -todd

  6. Preston says

    There is a reason that commercial hovercraft are all on the water. They just slide down inclines. My guess is that they will slide down the crown of a road. There is no friction at the contact patch to make these things track. Off road, you’ll always be traveling in a cloud of dust.

    • Chris says

      It isn’t specifically a hovercraft in the traditional sense; it doesn’t ride on a ‘cushion’ of air, but rather the acceleration of the air passing through the fans. If it had a skirt, I’d be inclined to agree with you, but it doesn’t. It should have the ability of (relatively) high altitude flight. I’m waiting to see where it goes.

  7. B50 Jim says

    I’m guessing that any altitude more than its own height would be treacherous at least. It gives new meaning to the term “high-sider”.

  8. HoughMade says

    You guys judge, am I a sicko? I’m curious to see what happens when you’re flying along and a small bird or two make their way above those fans.

    • BigHank53 says

      Small birds, no problem. They’re small. Seagulls, ducks, geese and the like: big problem. At any rate, it pales in comparison to what might happen if it does something unpredictable (the center of thrust is below the center of gravity–it’s inherently unstable) and spits the rider off. Hopefully you won’t stick an arm or leg into one of the props on your way down.

    • Nicolas says

      what happens when you’re riding along and a deer or two make their way across the road ? lol
      hopefully when you crash on your bike you don’t put an arm in the rear wheel, right ?
      it’s dangerous, it’s kinda crazy, but that’s also why it’s fun, damnit ! :-)

  9. NDAna says

    When it has functional brakes and can go up a hill – maybe then.
    Think I’d rather have a jet ski.

  10. Scotduke says

    This thing is interesting but less efficient and less stable than a hovercraft. I’ve driven a hovercraft and it’s fun – drifting one sideways at speed to make it turn is a blast. I expect this is similar to operate, but a bit more tricky. The 30mph speed is a lot slower than a hovercraft tho.

  11. says

    hummmm, call me old fashioned but i define a motorcycle as a two wheeled (the operative term) with an engine of some sort for power,i believe this follows Webster’s definition,,,,i am very passionate, almost obsessive about my motorcycling,,,,this hovercraft is an interesting vehicle no doubt,,,,,but it is no motorcycle,,,,not in my garage

  12. says

    Looks cool and I think it would be fun to ride… but I think I will stick to the 2 wheeled version. I don’t see this taking off (pun intended) any time soon…

  13. says

    I assume the “rider” is perched on top in order to control it with body english. But in order to turn with any sort of speed its going to have to lean, and with the center of gravity so high its likely to just roll over and spit the guy off when a skid digs in. Does anyone remember the “Junkyard Wars” where they build hoovercrafts? Just this sort of thing happened to the losing team.

    The rider should be sitting with his butt just above the fan, recumbent bicycle style or else laying on his belly like on a sled.

  14. x says

    They could be used to dry off/clear sporting fields while providing additional entertainment in the process.

  15. Hawk says

    The design makes me think of perpetually riding on sheet ice or hydroplaning tires. Massive concentration effort to maintain stability because the center of gravity is above the thrust line.

    I’d think a much better idea would be to have the rider (pilot) hanging under the fans. Control could be effected by movable ducting or by weight shift (a la hang glider) or a combination of both.

    But it looks like a great toy ….