Japanese startup test flies a one-person drone motorcycle

motocycle drone

Why does this not sound like a necessarily great idea? A startup in Japan has unveiled a one-person drone intended to be flown like a motorcycle, hurtling through the air and around corners at top speeds of 100 kmh.

This week, Japan’s A.L.I. Technologies staged a trial flight of its drone motorcycle – or hoverbike, as the company calls it – at a racetrack in the foothills of Mt. Fuji. The computer-generated official video for the Xturismo craft features a futuristic-looking MotoGP rider putting it through the paces in a variety of outdoor settings, and enjoying the all-terrain mobility of motocross without the dust, projectile dirt clods, and constant risk to severe injury that usually involves.

 The footage of the Xturismo’s test flight, however, captured a far more contained and cautious outing, with the deafening craft remaining aloft for all of 90 seconds as it performed a few basic moves.

A.L.I. Technologies is primarily a UAV producer, but has broadened development into other kinds of mobility, including the drone motorcycle it started work on in 2017. The company says it started accepting orders for the hoverbike immediately after the test flight ended Tuesday, and hopes to begin deliveries during the first half of 2022. 

“This hoverbike is the next generation of mobility, enabling free movement in 3-dimensional space,” the site says. “Xturismo Limited Edition, as a specially designed model, boasts a sleek and stylish form. This model is based on the desire to bring new sensations and experiences to mankind, a high-performance machine that runs through the sky.”

The vehicle weighs about 300 kg, assuring a very speedy descent should riders inadvertently surpass the maximum 40 minutes it can remain airborne at higher speeds. It’s powered by a gas-burning engine supplemented by batteries that keep the two primary propellers working at ear-splitting decibels.

Motorcycle fans who’d like all the liberty and thrills of two-wheel rides without the bumps or risks of spills will have to shell out the serious sum of $682,000 to get their behinds atop a Xturismo.

Though the vast majority of the world’s advanced mobility investment has been directed toward the kinds of “flying car” to be used in services like air taxis, a small but growing cluster of companies has been working on drone motorcycles. US-based JetPack Aviation has said it has tested a prototype of its Speeder motorcycle-esque aircraft. And a French startup called Lazareth is reportedly getting close to demonstrating a similar vehicle.

Meaning, we’ll all soon have to make absolutely certain we’ve looked both ways before we dare cross the skies.

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