In the near future, the US Marines could ride flying motorbikes capable of moving at a speed of about 500 kmph. California-based Jetpack Aviation has successfully flight-tested a prototype of its flying motorcycle, the ‘Speeder’.
The US Marine Corps could be a potential customer of this futuristic vehicle, David Mayman, CEO of Jetpack Aviation, claims.
The jet turbine-powered vehicle can travel at a speed of 300 mph (482 kmph) and its makers are ready to take preorders already. It took 18 months to build an entirely new flight control software.
The Speeder, the P1 prototype of Jetpack Aviation, is a jet-powered, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft. It can be utilized both as a recreational craft as well as a mission vehicle to work with medical teams and for fire and rescue operations.
The P1 concluded its five months of flight-testing in southern California in May. During its testing, it set various benchmarks which “demonstrated the Speeder’s ability to take-off, climb, hover, yaw and perform slow transitions into forward flight”, as reported by Aerospace Testing International.
The Speeder can fly up to an altitude of 15,000 feet and is capable of producing a maximum thrust of 1,200 pounds. When it is loaded with cargo, an automated Speeder can travel at a speed of 300 mph. However, a manned version of the Speeder will be relatively slower, ensuring that the pilot can safely see and breathe.
At present, the Speeder costs $380,000, which is likely to increase, according to David Mayman, CEO of Jetpack Aviation.
The Speeder is small enough to be transported in a trailer and it does not need to be charged before takeoff. Also, contrary to the Jetpack, it does not require extensive prep work before launching. “You’d just hop on and fly”, News Atlas reported.
According to reports, JA is already working on P1.5, its next variant. This prototype will use a smaller frame with carbon-fiber body panels. This will look one step closer to the final production model and is going to fly without a tether.
Its next experimental model, the P2, is going to have a fully-formed body with small, removable wings. Even though these prototypes of the Speeder use four engines, the final production model is going to have up to eight engines.
Tim Draper, a venture capitalist, who was also an early investor in Elon Musk’s Tesla and SpaceX, has backed Jetpack Aviation, previously reported by CNBC.
The Speeder can currently be powered by jet fuel, diesel as well as kerosene. However, David Mayman is committed to adopting zero-net carbon fuel while moving forward, as reported by Mail Online.
Jetpack Aviation already caught attention with its JB-10 and JB-11 jetpacks, as they are the only ones on the planet to be powered only by min-turbojet engines.
While the Speeder works on a similar principle, it is capable of moving faster, carrying a heavier load, and can also support up to two passengers.
According to News Atlas, it will also be electronically self-stabilized with servo-controlled nozzles “that can quickly vector the thrust from each jet in 360 degrees to make lightning-quick balance corrections and execute maneuvers”.
Mayman also said that the tether is not used to hold the vehicle up. It is only there to make sure that the vehicle does not drop off or fly off course. “Right now, we’ve verified it can take off, climb, do turns. It can hold itself in a stable hover using LiDAR. Nice and accurate”, he was quoted as saying.
“It does slowly drift a bit at the moment, maybe a foot over five minutes, but you can give it a decent shove with a pole and it’ll wobble and then come right back to where it was.”
Flying Bikes For Marine Corps?
Mayman’s goal is to make the Speeder modular, with various types of frames and propulsion setups, in order to meet the requirements of all his customers.
“We’ve got potential end-users in the US Marine Corps that want to be able to fly, say, 300 miles. To do that, you’d need a large wingspan of 15-17 feet,” he said.
“Sometimes, you’ll just want to fly the chassis, so it’s got to be modular and field-adaptable. For really long-range work, it’s possible to use a wet wing with a bladder full of additional fuel in it”, he was quoted as saying by Mail Online.
Written by Kashish Tandon