A Japanese start-up tech company has made a line of hoverbikes available for pre-order for the price of 77.7 million yen, or $680,000.
Hovering vehicles have been a staple of the sci-fi genre ever since Marty McFly stole a bright pink hoverboard from a child in ‘Back To The Future 2’ in 1989. That movie supposed we would have flying cars in 2015. It’s a couple of years late, but ALI Technologies has unveiled its XTurismo Limited Edition flying motorcycle at the Fuji Speedway Racecourse.
The red and black chassis of the vehicle sits atop propellers. It has the appearance of a motorbike or quadbike seat with handlebars for steering. Beneath the propellers, the bike is equipped with landing skids, on which it rests when it is not in the air. Inside the body of the XTurismo, it contains a conventional engine and four battery-powered motors which move the propellers. The bike is capable of making speeds of up to 100 kilometers per hour (62 miles per hour) which translates approximately to a top velocity of 28 meters per second.
“Until now the choice has been to move on the ground or at scale in the sky. We hope to offer a new method of movement,” said Chief Executive of the Tokyo-based company, Daisuke Katano, in an interview with Reuters.
ALI Technologies is backed by industrial giants like Mitsubishi Electric and Kyocera, as well as soccer player Keisuke Honda. In an effort to impress future customers, the bike went on display and for a test run on a racing track in the foothills of Mount Fuji. For the time being, Katano believes that is all the use the bike will see. However, he hopes that changes to Japan’s strict road laws could see the bike’s uses expand to include road travel and use in rescue missions over difficult terrain.
“We will enable the emergency use of hoverbikes in times of disaster, and at the same time, promote the use of hoverbikes in entertainment in times of non-emergency,” he said.
“In order to implement this technology in society, we feel the need to first develop regulations and foster general recognition (social acceptability). We will develop this technology as an industry that can contribute towards society.”
After making his presentation, and the live test run, the specific model of the bike that is available for sale was put on display. It currently does not meet with the law in most countries as a road-viable means of travel, but there is potential for it to be used recreationally on private land. The XTurismo is up for pre-order now, with delivery planned for the first half of next year.
The commercial success of the bikes would likely cement Japan’s position as a world innovator in the new age of driverless cars and electric vehicles, and ALI Technology has aspirations of becoming the global leader in air mobility tech. Funding is also being given to competition companies, such as Joby Aviation in California, and AIR in Israel.