The vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) market is heating up. To accelerate the arrival of urban air transport, companies are racing to develop the safest and most efficient technologies possible. Cars and personal planes are the most common VTOL vehicles, but flying motorcycles are gaining ground.
Due to the lack of protective barriers, flying motorcycles are a very technical and expensive technology that requires a perfect connection between man and machine. But, despite the difficulties, a few startups have made it possible.
Here are three flying motorcycles that exist in the real world today.
Few companies have succeeded in developing flying motorcycles or will even take on such a monumental task. That’s exactly what Jetpack aviation startup Mayman Aerospace has done with its own flying motorcycle called the micro-VTOL P2 Speeder.
For the past decade, Jetpack Aviation has been at the forefront of micro-personal vertical take-off and landing aircraft. A new standard is being set for flying motorcycle technology with the Speeder’s wide range of applications.
How it works?
Instead of using batteries, electric motors and propellers like other flying motorcycle concepts, it has eight jet turbine engines. All engines use net zero carbon aviation fuel. The Speeder has a lightweight carbon fiber body and is the size of a standard naked street bike. It offers superior rider ergonomics for maximum aerodynamics.
Its modular design also allows autonomous and remote flight. Imagine being able to receive jet drone deliveries to remote areas, similar to the UK postal drone delivery service.
The vehicle produces 700 pounds of thrust and can lift 992 pounds. It has a range of 400 miles and a top speed of 500 miles per hour, making it useful as a remote cargo carrier. It also has an industrial version with 1,200 pounds of thrust.
To do this, the Speeder has four turbine engines. The pitch angles of the motors are controlled via an onboard electronic flight control system. When the system detects unbalanced thrust angles, it automatically compensates.
The P2 Speeder is intended for search and rescue, law enforcement and military use. According to MilitaryLeak, two versions will be available, a recreational specification and one specifically for military and industrial use.
Mayman Aerospace is committed to pushing the boundaries of VTOL innovation. Technologies such as hydrogen turbine engines, electric fan jets, turbofan propulsion and autonomous avoidance systems can be expected in the future. The recreational version is estimated at $380,000, with commercial availability expected in 2023.
Xturismo Limited Edition
When it comes to breakthrough technology, Japan has always been a pioneer. It’s no different in the flying motorcycle market. Students from the University of Tokyo established ALI Technologies in September 2016. The background of the group of entrepreneurs was the development of drones. Using their knowledge of how drones fly, they wanted to add to their common uses.
ALI Technologies, in partnership with Japanese professional soccer player Keisuke Honda, Mitsubishi Electric and Kyocera, has unveiled its Xturismo flying motorcycle. Its goal is to make urban air transport a reality. Katano Daisuke, President of ALI Technologies said:
“It’s a rare company that deals with both air infrastructure and air mobility. I think there’s only one other company like ours, and that’s in Israel. Our company is working to achieve an air mobility society in which traffic accidents never happen.”
How it works?
The limited-edition Xturismo weighs 661 pounds and is powered by a hybrid-electric combustion engine. The carbon fiber body houses six electric motors driving six propellers. The bike is 12 feet long and eight feet wide, making it a sturdy and tall VTOL with a maximum payload of 220 pounds. During the flight, you can cruise up to 62 mph for 30-40 minutes. Plus, landing the Xturismo is easy with its fixed, helicopter-style landing skids.
ALI Technologies has equipped the Xturismo with numerous safety devices, mainly in the form of redundancy. In order to provide fail-safe redundancy, a Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP) system is used. For example, if one propeller fails, the rest will be able to land the bike safely.
Unlike the P2 Speeder, the Xturismo LE is primarily intended for personal use rather than remote use. ALI Technologies envisions a future where government regulations allow flying motorcycles to take flight, adding another mode of transportation in populated urban areas. ALI’s Xturismo LE can be yours for pre-order for around $680,000.
Lazareth LMV 496
The Lazareth LMV 496 has to be the most extreme motorcycle, flying or otherwise. This unique flying motorcycle was created by French mechanical engineer Ludovic Lazareth, who started his own company to bring his radical ideas to life.
In 2016 Lazareth introduced the amazing LM 847. It was a tilting four wheel superbike with a Maserati engine. Yes, you read that right! Besides its artistic design, it has a monstrous 470 horsepower engine that produces 457 pounds of torque. Lazareth does it again with the LMV 496 flying motorcycle.
How does the LMV 496 work?
One of the cool things about the LMV 496 is that it’s actually a motorcycle that can fly. Unlike the previously mentioned bikes which can only fly, the LMV 496 can be ridden on the road without restrictions, according to designer Ludovic Lazareth.
On the road, the 308-pound LMV 496 uses its electric motor with a range of around 60 miles. In flight mode, the two wheels dynamically separate and face downward, transforming into four-wheel hub turbofans. Two additional turbines on each side of the motorcycle are used for additional thrust. These turbines create 1,300 horsepower and produce 2,800 Nm of thrust for 10 minutes of flight.
As the bike takes off, the electric motor shuts down as the propulsion takes over. Turning the bike into flight mode takes just 60 seconds and an electronic digital display provides information such as speed, elevation and location.
The bike is controlled in the air by two joysticks on the handlebars. Quick-deployment parachutes are also fitted for any emergency during flight.
The LMV 496 is intended for recreational use, offering a unique driving and flying experience at a premium price of $560,000. It has a comfortable seat and can accommodate any rider, says Lazareth. However, it can only reach an altitude of just over 3 feet at present.
The Continuing Evolution of Personal Travel
Vehicle technology is advancing rapidly. Not so long ago, electric cars were rare on the road. Now, solar vehicles are on the way. There is a great possibility that VTOL personal air travel is the next step. It is only a matter of time before government regulations allow personal VTOL vehicles to operate in urban areas.
In the meantime, more startups could enter the flying motorcycle market to develop the safest and most cost-effective options for public use. Maybe flying like the Jetsons isn’t so far in the future after all.