That most long-awaited form of transport may finally be arriving with California-based Aerofex announcing that it'll be launching its Aero-X hoverbike in 2017 at an estimated price of US$85,000.
The company is already accepting refundable deposits of $5,000 on its website, with first flights scheduled for 2016. The Aero-X is designed to carry two people up to a height of 3 m (10 ft) above the ground and reach speeds of up to 72 km/h (42 mph).
Aerofex has been testing its hoverbike for some time now, attempting to resolve various control and stability challenges. With carbon fiber rotors taking the place of wheels, the Aero-X will be able to take-off and land vertically without the need for a runway or forward speed, according to the company.
It's also reported to be as easy to ride as a motorcycle, as pilots will be able to use the handlebar grips, situated at knee level, to control the hoverbike in a similar fashion. They'll only need about a weekend of training to be able to fly it easily, the company claims.
With a pre-fuel weight of about 356 kg (785 lb), the hoverbike can carry loads of up to 140 kg (310 lb) over any any type of surface, state company officials. It's also expected to run for about 75 minutes on a full tank of fuel. While it's primarily being designed to be a low-altitude sport and utility vehicle, its developers say it can be adapted for any number of uses.
"The Aero-X will have a positive impact on agriculture, herd management, and geo-surveying – particularly in those parts of the world lacking general aviation," states Mark De Roche, the company's CTO and founder. "Its intuitive operation, low cost, and unique capabilities make it suitable for disaster relief, search and rescue, and patrolling borders and game parks. We believe it will enable low-altitude utility previously unavailable due to cost and training barriers."
The design features an intuitive pilot interface, two-position control bars and a four-wheel gear. The Aero-X hoverbike is around 4.5 m (14.8 ft) in length and 2.1 m (6.8 ft) in width. Some of the additional features being considered for the Aero-X include whole vehicle airbags, flotation pontoons for water operations and Department of Transport-approved transport trailers.