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Army Successfully Tests Driver-Less “Hoverbike” Prototype

January 19, 2017

The United States Military has successfully tested a “hoverbike” prototype capable of carrying a payload of up to 300 pounds. The U.S. Army and Marine Corps have teamed up with the U.K.-based technology firm Mallory Aeronautics to make this sci-fi inspired aircraft a reality.

The Joint Tactical Aerial Resupply Vehicle (JTARV) was put through a series of tests at U.S. Army Research Laboratory Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland to determine whether or not this unique aircraft has military applications. The engineers and military officials came to the general consensus that a vehicle like the JTARV could be used to transport troops or supplies low to the ground or thousands of feet in the air at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour.

You can video footage of the JTARV in action below:

The project has been in development for over two years. Despite the short shelf life of the project, developers have made huge strides in making this concept a reality. Ernesto Garcia Lopez, the Innovation Program Manager of Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center in Picatinny, New Jersey, spoke to the U.S. Army Research Laboratory on Jan. 13.

“This project was successful because we went from a concept development to an engineering evaluation,” he said, “It was done in collaboration with various government agencies [and] industry in a very short time.”

Military officials hope to develop a more advanced JTARV that will carry up to a 800 pound payload at speeds of 60 miles per hour completely autonomously. Many of the demonstrations show the JTARV carrying a human or robotic operator. However, according military officials, the JTARV will function as an autonomous drone once completed. Removing a human rider will increase the amount of supplies that can be carried by the JTARV with each deployment.

Popular Mechanics commented on the issue.

“Making a hoverbike that could support a rider is wildly difficult as DIY projects have proven. Besides, riderless supply drones are likely more useful to the military in the near-term,” they said.