Kalashnikov Concern, the largest arms manufacturer in Russia, recently released a YouTube video of a man flying a hoverbike on September 25, 2017. A pilot flew the hoverbike inside a warehouse among a crowd of bystanders. The video only showed a preview of the Russian innovation, but the 16 motor manned aerial vehicle (MAV) is still a working prototype.
The hoverbike was stripped down to its minimal form before it took flight. The bare-bones setup consisted of a pair of joysticks, batteries, motors, an action camera, a frame and a seat for the pilot. The pilot placed his feet on a bar, which is part of the vehicle’s landing gear, and took off. After flying to one end of the warehouse, the pilot pivoted the MAV and turned it just like a quadcopter. The prototype flew with 16 tri-blade propellers, so technically, the hoverbike operated with 48 propeller blades!
Towards the end of the video, the hoverbike was seen with a concept body that covered the exposed propellers. It wasn’t flown with the frame guard, but it showcased the company’s work in progress.
Kalashnikov Concern did not specify what they would do with this hoverbike. Being that they have an interest in developing UAVs with ZALA Aero, a Russian company that specializes in UAVs for defense purposes, their MAV prototype might be developed for military use.
This drone doesn’t have a name, and it doesn’t seem to have any apparent safety features besides motor redundancy. The pilot flew the hoverbike with and without a helmet, so it must have been stable enough to consistently fly. The company will have to inevitably create a safety system because directly falling from a hoverbike is a hazard. The frame guard may have been too heavy to use at its current stage, but exposed propellers on an aerial vehicle that large needs to be covered because it is dangerous, especially if they plan on flying indoors.
Other companies from all around the world are racing to create the next best MAV, but flying full-grown humans with drones isn’t new. Right before last year’s Christmas, a drone was seen carrying a snowboarder. Now, fully-autonomous drone taxis are being tested in Dubai. Even drone motorcycles are being developed. The ability to carry passengers from one point to another with drone technology is on the rise, and this hoverbike is a glimpse of what’s to come in the near future.