Sunday, 26 August 2012

New Hover Vehicle Recalls ‘Star Wars’ Bike

A resurrected hover vehicle won’t fly through dense forests as easily as the “Star Wars” speeder bikes from “Return of the Jedi,” however its user friendly controls may one day permit anyone to fly it without pilot training. The aerial vehicle resembles a science fiction flying bike with two ducted rotors in place of wheels, however comes from a design abandoned in the 1960s due to balance and rollover problems. Aerofex, a California-based firm, set the stableness issue by creating a mechanical system controlled by two control bars at knee-level which allows the vehicle to react to a human pilot’s leaning movements and natural sense of balance. Consider it as lowering the threshold of flight, down to the domain of ATV’s (all-terrain vehicles),” said Mark De Roche, an aerospace engineer as well as founder of Aerofex.
This kind of automatic controls may permit physicians to fly future versions of the vehicle to pay a visit to rural patients in places without roads, or enable border patrol officers to go about their duties without pilot training. Everything comes about involuntarily without the need for electronics, let alone complicated artificial common sense or flight software. It basically captures the translations between the two in three axis ( pitch, roll and yaw), and also triggers the aerodynamic controls needed to counter the movement which lines the vehicle back up with the pilot,”
Since the pilot’s controlling movements are reasonable and continuous, it performs out quite very easily to him. But Aerofex would not plan to instantly develop and promote a manned version. Rather, the aerospace firm observes the aerial vehicle as an experiment platform for new unmanned drones — heavy-lift robotic workhorses that may utilize the similar hover technology to work in agricultural fields, or effortlessly provide supplies to search-and-rescue teams in rough terrain. Perhaps the soldiers or Special Forces may employ such hover drones to carry or deliver heavy supplies in the constrained spaces between buildings in cities. U.S. Marines have actually begun testing robotic helicopters to provide supplies in Afghanistan.
The hovering drones will not fly as successfully as helicopters due to their shorter rotor blades; however their completely enclosed rotors have the benefit of a much smaller size and protection near humans. They are really much less effective than a helicopter, that has the advantage of larger diameter rotors,” De Roche explained. “They have exclusive performance advantages, however; since they have verified flight within trees, near walls and under bridges. Aerofex possesses presently limited human flight testing to a height of 15 feet in addition to speeds of around 30 mph, however more out of caution rather than due to any technological limits. Earlier versions of the hover vehicles can fly about as quickly as helicopters, De Roche said. Flight testing in California’s Mojave Desert led to the presentation of a technical paper regarding Aerofex’s achievements at the Future Vertical Lift Conference in January 2012. The firm ideas to fly a second version of its vehicle in October, as well as make an unmanned drone version for flight testing by the end of 2013.

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