The hoverbikes are coming

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Autonomous passenger drones might be coming to Dubai this summer, but in Russia I had the chance to check out this startup which literally wants to build a hoverbike.

Emerging from the Skolkovo “startups and science park” just outside of Moscow, human-carrying drone maker Hoversurf has created a single-seat hoverbike which looks awesome, but does rather make you fear for your legs, let alone the legs of other people you might encounter.

The Scorpion-3 is the updated version of the prototype Scorpion-1 I saw being demonstrated on a tennis court, but is fundamentally the same thing. The pilot sits on it like a motorcycle, and flies around just like you might expect a hoverbike to do. However, as you can see from even the official videos, it’s still got some way to go before it matches the hoverbikes you might have seen in movies like Star Trek.

Hoversurf is positioning the bike as an “extreme sports instrument,” and to buy one might set you back at least six figures, so I wouldn’t expect to see the bike on your local highway any time soon. However, they are looking at its “transportation potential.”

Hoversurf has developed its own in-house software to control the Scorpion-3 in either automated mode or with full-manual control. That means it also has in-built systems to automatically control and limit the maximum speed and altitude of the aircraft to prevent accidents. It flies a lot better than the version I encountered, that’s for sure.

Chief Engineer and co-founder Alex Atamanov tells me the electric version will hover around for about 30 minutes, but a hybrid version with a petrol engine will go for a whole hour, which rather puts a few other human-carrying drones into the shade.

Here’s their official video:

Meanwhile in the U.K., Malloy Aeronautics has developed a “Hoverbike” which it plans to develop with the U.S. Army.

The hoverbike began its life as a Kickstarter project. The hoverbike is designed to do many of the same jobs as a helicopter, but without the problems, price or complexity.

And if you need a reminder of Hollywood’s ideas about hoverbikes, here are a couple of examples:

The Island – The chase scene:

Start Trek (reboot)