Looking like something out of the Star Wars movie "Return of the Jedi," a Hoverbike may be much closer to reality.
A Harford County defense firm is helping a British firm to develop a bike-like hovering craft for the U.S. Department of Defense, Maryland Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford announced Tuesday at the Paris Air Show.
The Hoverbike is a type of drone that could one day be flown manned or unmanned for military or civilian tasks. Belcamp-based SURVICE Engineering Co. is partnering with U.K.-based Malloy Aeronautics, an aeronautical engineering firm, to develop the craft as a reconnaissance vehicle under a research and development contract with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.
A model of the Hoverbike is on display at the Paris Air Show, which runs through June 21. Attending the show, Rutherford called the Hoverbike "a new frontier in aviation."
Malloy Aeronautics, founded in 2012, announced it established an office in Belcamp next to the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground to work on designing the bike. Its business partner, SURVICE, has offered research and development support to the Defense Department for more than 30 years.
Malloy first tried making a "bicopter" with two propellers, but has since moved toward a more stable "quadcopter" design with four propellers. The Hoverbike would be used in place of a helicopter for tasks like search-and-rescue, film, and cattle mustering, the company says.