From electric hoverbikes to drone taxis, it seems likely that the future will see state-of-the-art multicopters transporting not just goods from A to B, but people too. There are countless interesting concepts and prototypes around, but few of them have actually become fully developed technologies. And the latest effort from Russian-American startup Hoversurf, named “Scorpion 3,” falls somewhere between inspired and insane.
The hoverbike’s chassis is similar to that of a quad bike, but it is fitted with four large wooden propellers instead of wheels. According to the team that built it, the single-seat aircraft blends classic motorcycle design with cutting-edge quadcopter technology. They add that the electric drive is powerful enough to fly with a load of up to 120 kg, and reaches speeds of around 50 km/h.
Scorpion 3: A Flawed Idea
Movement through the air is made possible by changing the height and direction of flight, say the developers. Special software has been created to regulate speed and range. But the first attempted flights seemed a little cautious, taking place in the safety of a warehouse, as the video recently posted on YouTube shows. The prototype seems fairly stable, but it doesn’t exactly remind you of Easy Rider.
The hoverbike has other problems too: With just four rotors, the system lacks the redundancy it needs — if one of the propellers fails, it’s almost impossible to maintain stability. And as the drives are mounted so low, there could be all kinds of problems in everyday use. If the ground below is not clean and paved, dirt and stones will be whipped up all around the driver. What’s more, if one of the rotors comes loose, even the toughest bike leathers won’t prevent serious injuries.
A Vision of the Future: Streets in the Sky
Right now, the Scorpion 3 is primarily seen as an extreme sports instrument, explains Hoversurf on its website. But they add that the quadcopter has great potential as a means of airborne transportation. The ambitious startup, based in Moscow and San Francisco, is certainly showing it has designs on developing more flying objects in the future, like drone taxis and heavy goods drones.
When it comes to developments in transportation, we are living in exciting times. The vision of streets in the sky is starting to become a reality with increasingly powerful consumer drones, manned multicopters and other aircraft. But before we can think about drone taxis chauffeuring us home, we need entirely new concepts for controlling traffic and ensuring safety in the air space. It’s a challenge that is sure to cause a few headaches in the years to come.