There is a race to build a workable speeder. Yes, really
With the thrills of motocross and fandom of Star Wars motivating them, a Russian-American design startup called Hoversurf has successfully created a new kind of piloted drone.
The Scorpion-3 has room for one passenger/driver and runs on electric power. It comes complete with wooden blades for rotors. It seriously works, but the company isn’t pretending it’s ready for any average Joe. They say it’s best used for extreme sports right now and careful professionals for the time being.
“SCORPION platform is the next step in accessible amateur flying developed to inspire athletes, engineers, scientists and inventors around the world,” the Hoversurf website reads. “SCORPION platform is part of a series of projects including Jetpack by Malloy, Aerofex, A. Duru, E-Hang, Bye Gravity, E-volo.”
But that’s like saying motor vehicles would have been better off debuting at a race track than on Main Street. Their long-term vision is to integrate these sorts of machines into transportation infrastructure, circumventing the science fiction of flying cars in favor of sleeker speeders.
Their site previews “drone taxis” – what they dub “Air Transport as a Service” (ATaaS) – that would supposedly be safer than current ground transportation. It would include in-flight computers and FPE generators with a user interface for ride-booking and a flight control system. So-called MARK-S platforms would also be included to control take off and landing from a platform that is only 80 centimeters wide.
Obviously their creation isn’t the hovering bikes of Star Wars, nor do they meet the same standards of speed and maneuverability. However, it beats anything else that has been created before and “surfs” through the air by changing altitude and velocity, or so they say.
They are not the first to come up with this concept and they seemingly won’t be the last. Malloy Aeronautics has a contract to build a version for the US military, while YouTube tinkerer Colin Furze built his own version just last year.