Because we movie geeks like to keep track of how close we are to creating real-life versions of the fictional technology featured in Back to the Future II, here's an update on an Australian guy who claims he's close to completing the world's first hoverbike. No, it's not a hoverboard (though some have already tried to create one of those), but it looks to be the closest we've come so far to re-creating BTTF II technology that you may actually be able to purchase and use, according to creator Chris Malloy.
Malloy claims the bike will be able to travel upwards of 170 mph, and can go as high as 10,000 feet (though you'll need oxygen, a parachute and God as a co-pilot). We know you have more questions, so here's a little from Malloy's FAQ section:
How safe is the Hoverbike?
-- Very safe. The hoverbike was designed with safety as the over-riding factor in all design. If you have ever flown and pre-flight checked a helicopter you will appreciate the simplicity of this design. With so many parts on a helicopter - and a large number of single parts that could alone cause catastrophic disaster if they should fail - it is just a matter of time. The hoverbike has as many components as possible with triple redundancy which requires at least 2 other components to fail before you might have a serious airborne failure. This combined with a massive reduction in total parts (compared to a helicopter) and the hoverbike becomes safer and cheaper.
-- Parachutes. With the hoverbike you have the choice to wear an emergency parachute and have two explosive parachutes attached to the airframe, with a helicopter you have no such choice. The hoverbike in it's current configuration cannot autorotate (with adjustable pitch propellers it can) but this should not be viewed as a discredit to the design. Engine failure in a helicopter or plane by no means assures you that you will survive a autorotation or glide, as air crash statistics show. The option of removing yourself from the vehicle and descending via parachute to the ground may well save your life
-- The propeller blades will have on the next revision (and certainly the final product sold) a fine mesh over the entire ducting, which will stop any wandering hands or large debri from entering the duct.
Do you need to have a pilots license to fly the Hoverbike?
-- Having previous experience in a helicopter or plane would be a great help. That said, this is a new way to fly and one would need to learn to ride the hoverbike in much the same manner as a helicopter or riding a motorcycle. If you live in the USA or your country has similar civil aviation regulations, then the hoverbike will be classed as a 'ultralite' which means you do not need a pilots license to fly the hoverbike.
How much will it cost
-- We are not in the production phase yet, so we cannot give you a finalized price structure, but as a guide, when we can sell at least 100 units a year the cost with current material prices and labor will be $45,000AUD +/-$5000. As with all goods, economy of scale will bring the price down. At 1000 units a year the cost will be similar to a performance motorcycle! (on-going development cost due to testing may vary this a little)
-- If you would like to buy a prototype now, and do your own testing - or just to help us quicken the development time with extra funding, please feel free to contact us to discuss.
Seems like there's still awhile to go before this thing can actually be taken seriously, but we're getting there. Perhaps we'll be able to watch Back to the Future II on the big screen while sitting atop out hoverbikes and hoverboards for the film's 100th anniversary -- whaddya think?