Aerofex's hoverbike made a pretty big splash when the Californian company showed off its working prototype all the way back in 2012, but then it went eerily silent. Now, Aerofex has finally revealed a launch date and price: it'll cost $85,000 and ship in 2017, according to its website.
"Where you're going, there are no roads," the company writes. "That's why you need the Aero-X, a vehicle that makes low-altitude flight realistic and affordable. Flying up to 3 metres (10 feet) off the ground at 45mph (72kph), the Aero-X is unlike any vehicle you've seen. It's a hovercraft that rides like a motorcycle -- an off road vehicle that gets you off the ground."
The Aero-X in its current form is capable of carrying a load of up to 140kg (310 pounds), with seating for two, and can run for 1 hour 15 minutes on a full tank of petrol, so it's not going to be a replacement for your everyday vehicle, even though it occupies the same area profile as a small car.
Its two wheels are ducted rotors with carbon fibre blades, which operate in a similar manner to the open rotor of a helicopter, with much tighter control. In the last two years, the company has been working on improving the vehicle's stability and coupling -- a phenomenon whereby rotor vehicles may pitch in the direction of the rotors' spin. It has filed several patents for its solutions.
Aerofex also looked towards quadcopters to solve the problem of wind, using gyroscopes and accelerometers communicating with an on-board computer to compensate for windy conditions.
User-friendliness has figured heavily in the design, with handlebar controls for intuitive steering and safety features that keep the driver from flying too high or too fast -- both of which would drain its fuel more quickly anyway. This also helps it comply with the US Federal Aviation Administration's guidelines, which require a pilot's license for anyone operating a vehicle above an altitude of 3.7 metres (12.1 feet).
And yes, it does fly over water as well.