Have you ever taken your ATV over a massive jump and wished you could ride that mid-air high forever? Thanks to Hoversurf’s Hoverbike eVTOL (electrical vertical take-off and landing), you don’t need to come back down to earth anytime soon.
Yes, it’s true. You can fly.
The Hoverbike S3 2019 is the world’s first legal, personal, single-person drone. The vehicle is classified as an ultralight aircraft, which means you don’t need a pilot licence or aircraft certification to fly the 115-kilogram (253-pound) aerial machine.
“Flying a hoverbike is one of the most exhilarating experiences that I’ve ever had,” said Joseph Segura-Conn, COO of Hoversurf. “It’s definitely not something you forget.”
The hoverbike’s battery can keep the machine airborne for 10 to 25 minutes with a pilot (40 minutes without) via four electric-ducted fans and propellers that elevate the vehicle. The hoverbike is operated by a Hoversurf-patented, custom-built flight computer.
“The computer does about 95 per cent of the work: balancing itself, staying stable, things like that,” Segura-Conn said. “You control movement, speed and altitude—to a certain extent. We have it limited to a certain height (4.9 metres or 16 feet) and speed (72.5 kilometres per hour or 45 miles per hour) by software.
“Because it's an ultralight aircraft, you don’t have a parachute. We account for worst-case scenarios, that’s why we limit the height and speed. It’s just for safety reasons.
“Building a carbon-fibre flying motorcycle is cool to me,” said Joseph Segura-Conn, Hoversurf COO. — Photo courtesy Hoversurf
“It has about 20 different features built into it. When one propeller goes out, the system knows to automatically land. When your battery gets to a certain drainage, it automatically lands. There are a bunch of kill switches that we’ve added on for safety.”
Segura-Conn played a major role in seeing the hoverbike through to completion. Utilizing his prototyping background, he was able to design a way to bring the weight down using carbon fibre.
“It’s the strongest material that works for this kind of frame,” he said. “Building a carbon-fibre flying motorcycle is cool to me.”
It turns out that learning to fly doesn’t even take much time. Segura-Conn figured it out in about 15 minutes, although Hoversurf does require all purchasers to take a special three-day course, which costs $10,000, at their California office to teach riders about hoverbike safety and maintenance.
The controls of the hoverbike are also custom-built and meant to replicate the controls of a hobby drone. You can operate the vehicle while sitting on it or remotely from a controller. If you’ve operated a remote drone before, the hoverbike won’t feel foreign to you.
“We’ve made it as comfortable as possible to learn,” said Segura-Conn.
At this point, you may be wondering where you can fly this state-of-the-art machine. As an ultralight aircraft, the hoverbike can’t be used to fly over gridlock traffic on the morning commute to work; however, if you live in a rural area, there are a variety of options.
“You can’t fly this down the street or above people’s houses—that won’t happen anytime soon,” Segura-Conn said. “It’s a recreational vehicle, so most people use it on their own property or take it out to an air zone for hang gliders or parasailers.”
That being said, the most significant impediment to owning your own hoverbike isn’t local geography, it’s cost. The Hoverbike S3 2019 limited edition sells for $150,000 and requires a $15,000 reservation deposit. But if you’ve got a bolstered bank account, you could reserve your hoverbike today and have it delivered in two to six months. A small price to pay for the gift of flight, right?
The Dubai Police are already training their officers to use hoverbikes. — Photo courtesy Hoversurf
Even with the hefty price tag, demand for Hoversurf’s hoverbike is large worldwide. The company is currently in discussion with a combination of manufacturers, resellers, Search and Rescue personnel, the military and police forces, such as the Dubai Police, who are already training their officers to use hoverbikes.
“We only plan on selling a handful of vehicles in-house for the next year or so,” said Segura-Conn. “We have a strong vetting process to see who gets it first—what is their background, qualifications, what do they plan on doing with it? Then we make a determination as to who’s going to get it and when they’re going to get it.”
Hoversurf’s hoverbike history
Surprisingly, Hoversurf wasn’t ever meant to be a recreational vehicle company. It morphed into one through new technology designs.
“We’re not really a hoverbike company, we’re a technology company,” Segura-Conn said. “The reason we built the hoverbike was because of all the different patents and designs that we had created. Hoverbikes seemed like the most interesting product to build. The first couple hoverbikes were testing all of our patents and technology. The world heard about our hoverbikes, went wild, and that’s kind of what we’re known for now.
“We build the vehicles and then people tell us what they think they should be used for. We’re always learning new scenarios and uses.”
The future is now
The combo of ingenuity and attentive listening could lead Hoversurf to an even more groundbreaking creation: a two-person flying car.
“The main purpose of that vehicle will be to test our next several patents in technology and see how everything works combined,” Segura-Conn said. “Then we’ll do the same thing: sell several units, customize limited editions—just like this bike—and then suppliers can choose to possibly sell more. That’ll be shown in the next six months.”