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Jedi Soliders: Army Working on Drone Hoverbike

June 25, 2015  - By
The hoverbike, shown tethered for safety reasons, supports nearly 600 pounds, enough for soldiers and their heavy gear. (Photo: Malloy Aeronautics)

The hoverbike, shown tethered for safety reasons, supports nearly 600 pounds, enough for soldiers and their heavy gear. (Photo: Malloy Aeronautics)

Hover technology has long been depicted in movies like Star Wars and Back to the Future. Now the U.S. Army is teaming up with two companies to develop hoverbike technology — a cross between a motorcycle and a drone.

SURVICE Engineering Co., a Belcamp, Md.-based defense firm, and U.K.-based Malloy Aeronautics, an aeronautical engineering firm, are developing the Hoverbike technology for the U.S. Department of Defense as part of an ongoing research and development contract with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. The Hoverbike is being developed to operate as a new class of Tactical Reconnaissance Vehicle (TRV).

The makers, Malloy Aeronautics, have a vision for the hoverbike beyond defense. “Its low cost and practical size lends itself to search and rescue, precision farming and cattle mustering, first-responder emergency services and cargo insertion of up to 120 kg (265 lbs) into confined spaces. We believe it would be ideal for ski and mountain rescue, airborne logistics and time-sensitive personnel insertion/extraction during major disasters,” the website says.

As part of this strategic alliance, UK-based Malloy Aeronautics has established a U.S. office in Belcamp adjacent to Aberdeen Proving Ground to complete work on the Hoverbike. A model of the Hoverbike is on display at the Paris Air Show, which runs through June 21.

Malloy's Drone3, a prototype of the hoverbike, was funded through a kickstarter campaign and is now being sold. According to Malloy's website, "A Californian customer of ours (Steve Mandel) received his Kickstarter Drone3 in February this year and emailed us yesterday with a photo of his new Drone3 in flight — with a new test pilot."

Malloy’s Drone3, a prototype of the hoverbike, was funded through a kickstarter campaign and is now being sold. According to Malloy’s website, “A Californian customer of ours (Steve Mandel) received his Kickstarter Drone3 in February this year and emailed us yesterday with a photo of his new Drone3 in flight — with a new test pilot.” (Photo courtesy of Steve Mandel)

With about 400 employees, SURVICE is a specialty engineering firm that has been providing R&D support for the U.S. Department of Defense and other industry sectors for more than 30 years.

Formed in 2012, Malloy Aeronautics is an entrepreneurial aerospace company that develops, markets, and sells drones and Hoverbike technology to commercial and military markets.

The video below shows the second-generation Hoverbike in a unmanned static hover. While makers say it’s capable of lifting a person of at least 100 kg, for safety and legal reasons the vehicle is being tested as a drone.

“Establishing an office in Maryland was a clear business decision,” said Chris Malloy, managing director of Malloy Aeronautics. “The proximity to the Army Research Laboratory and U.S. defense decision makers, access to the world-class facilities through the laboratory’s Open Campus initiative, and the co-location with our strategic business partner, SURVICE Engineering, were all factors in favor of Maryland as the best choice for Malloy Aeronautics.”

“Maryland companies do a tremendous amount of research and development (R&D) for the U.S. military,” said Jeff Foulk, SURVICE chief executive officer. “If there is a new military technology being developed, there’s a good chance that some aspect was designed, built or tested in Maryland.”

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is the nation’s premier laboratory for land forces and is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America’s Soldiers.  RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.

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