'Star Wars hoverbikes' may be coming to the US military
Star Wars-style hoverbikes could be coming to the US military after engineers in the UK and US struck a deal with the US Department of Defense.
The bikes have similar functionality to helicopters, but overcome some of the older technology's design limitations.
The devices can be used in military as well as emergency and aid operations, the developers told the Reuters news agency.
Further research and development will take place in Harford County, Maryland.
The prototypes are reminiscent of the racers that Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia used to zoom around the forest moon of Endor in the film Return of the Jedi.
"The Department of Defense is interested in Hoverbike technology because it can support multiple roles," said Mark Butkiewicz, who works for Survice, the US firm that will be developing the technology. "It can transport troops over difficult terrain and when it's not used in that purpose it can also be used to transport logistics, supplies, and it can operate in both a manned and unmanned asset."
Grant Stapleton of the UK firm Malloy Aeronautics explained to Reuters what advantages the bikes have over traditional helicopters: "Primarily there's safety. With adducted rotors you immediately not only protect people and property if you were to bump into them, but if you ever were to bump into somebody or property it's going to bring the aircraft out of the air."
Government officials in the state of Maryland are welcoming the development saying that it will provide several high-paying jobs to the state.
"I think there can be a lot of applications, and maybe I'll be the fifth or sixth person to ride it. I'm going to wait until a couple of people ride it before me," joked Maryland Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford.