The mission statement on Aerofex’s website says that their goal is to “democratize flight”. To accomplish that goal, the California-based company has designed a line of crafts that fuse the ducted rotor design of hovercrafts with the easy maneuverability of a motorcycle or ATV.
The vehicle, known as the Aero-X, is able to travel at speeds of 45 mph while hovering up to 3.7 meters (12.1 feet) above the ground, allowing riders to travel with speed and comfort over rougher, unpaved terrain.
Aerofex faced a number of problems when trying to design a craft that could easily be operated by people with little to no flight experience. Here’s Mark De Roche, chief technology officer and founder of Aerofex:
“We’ve done a lot of work to learn how to remove the coupling effect. That’s the key for someone who only has motorcycle experience to be able to get on it and feel comfortable right away.”
De Roche is referring to the phenomenon that sometimes occurs with open rotor vehicles like helicopters: when a pilot pushes the thrust forward to accelerate, the aerodynamics of the spinning rotor causes the craft to pitch slightly left as well.
The Aero-X was able to solve this problem, creating a craft that can be easily maneuvered using motorcycle-like handlebars. A “knee-bar” detects which direction the pilot leans in: leaning forward moves the craft forward and leaning back slows it down.
The video below shows early tests of the Aero-X prototype.
While the product is still in the development stages, De Roche predicts that the version that hits markets in 2017 will be able to carry over 300 pounds and run for around 75 minutes on a full tank of gas.
The price tag is set at $85,000, and if you’re willing to thrown down $5,000 right now you can reserve one.
Here are a few concept images of what the Aero-X will look like when development is complete. Click an image to enlarge.
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