You have got to be kidding. No joke – the Aerofex Aero-X will be the world's first commercially available hoverbike when it goes on sale in 2017. We first saw Aerofex's magnificent flying machine back in 2012 – but it's been given a makeover ahead of its planned commercial release date.
What's new, then? Well, it seats two people now, for one thing. It also sports a more polished design, a carbon fibre composite body and carbon fibre blades on its ducted fans. And on a more practical level, much effort has been put into resolving issues over stability, with Aerofex working to minimise the coupling effect caused by its ducted fans.
The what effect? Coupling – it's the tendency of rotor vehicles to pitch in the direction of the spinning rotors. Where helicopter pilots learn to counteract the effect by adjusting controls on the fly, Aerofex wants the Aero-X to be as intuitive to drive as a motorbike. To that end, the final production version will be steered with handlebars, and will use the same gyroscopes and accelerometers found in quadcopter drones to minimise the effects of gusts of wind.
So I won't need a pilot's license to fly one? Not in the US, no – US FAA guidelines require a pilot's license for any vehicle that flies over 3.7m high, and the Aero-X sneaks in just under the limit. It'll fly at speeds of up to 44mph, over land and water, carrying up to 140kg, and will run for about 75 minutes on a full tank – of ordinary petrol, not aviation fuel.
How practical is it? The Aero-X will fly at speeds of up to 44mph, over land and water, carrying up to 140kg, and will run for about 75 minutes on a full tank. Optional extras include whole-vehicle airbags and flotation pontoons for travelling over water. It certainly isn't going to replace your car for commutes, but Aerofex envisages some practical uses for it – such as disaster relief, search and rescue and crop spraying. And as a leisure craft, it's a lot less expensive than a helicopter.
How much are we talking here? The Aero-X is expected to cost US$85,000 when it goes on sale in 2017 – but if you want to get first dibs on a hoverbike, you can can put down a (refundable) deposit of US$5000 now. It'll go nicely with your jetpack.