Dubai Police get flying motorbike: 4 other compact flying machines in the works

The single-seater relies on four propellers to fly, can travel up to 40mph (64.4kmh) for a maximum of 25 minutes, and can carry a weight of 600lbs (272kg).
The single-seater relies on four propellers to fly, can travel up to 40mph (64.4kmh) for a maximum of 25 minutes, and can carry a weight of 600lbs (272kg). PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE

SINGAPORE - The Dubai police have decided to add the Scorpion, something which is essentially a flying motorbike, to their impressive fleet of high technology gadgets.

Designed by Russian firm Hoversurf, the single-seater relies on four propellers to fly, can travel up to 40mph (64.4kmh) for a maximum of 25 minutes, and can carry a weight of 600lbs (272kg).

The addition comes as part of the force's "smart city" plans.

The Scorpion is not the only company that wishes to ride the winds of change in "personal flight", the up-and-rising industry of compact flying machines that require less operator training than helicopters and aeroplanes.

Commuting by air is on the cards in the near future if these companies also have their way:

1. Kitty roaring into the sky


Cimeron Morrissey, an outdoor sports enthusiast and freelance writer, as she flies on the the Kitty Hawk Flyer prototype. PHOTO: AFP

Silicon Valley-based startup Kitty Hawk released a video of its "personal flying machine" prototype in flight above a lake, reported AFP on April 24.

Said to be backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, the company aims to deliver finished examples of the Flyer, an open-air machine that seats one that requires a mere two hours of training to operate, by the end of this year.

The craft, propelled by eight rotors, takes off and lands vertically, like a helicopter. It is said to weigh about 100 kgs and fly at speeds up to 40 kph.

2. Uber-high ambitions

In a surprise announcement, transport app company Uber announced on Tuesday (April 25) its intention to enter the flying car arena, with prototypes slated for release in 2020 and full operation three years after.

The company will work with industry partners such as aviation company Aurora Flight Sciences to build "vertical takeoff and landing" aircraft and create the infrastructure network needed to maintain the vehicles.

Partnerships with Dubai and the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolis were also announced at a summit specially-convened to outline the company's project, which was dubbed Uber Elevate.

The company estimated in a white paper released in October that 1,000 aircraft and 83 terminals, each with 12 charging spots, would be needed to serve three or four cities.

3. A bloom of Lilium 

 

Just five days before Kitty Hawk released its flight footage, Munich startup Lilium uploaded a video showing a fully-functional prototype of its Jet in unmanned flight:

Powered by an array of 36 electrically-powered jets, the Jet promises to seat five in a sleek, enclosed fuselage, unlike the minimalist configuration of the Kitty Hawk.

It is capable of taking off vertically from tight spaces, like a helicopter, before engaging in aeroplane-style winged flight.

It has a claimed range and top speed of 300km and 300km/h respectively.

However, a pilot's license with at least 20 hours of training is required to fly the Jet, a requirement that is nevertheless far less onerous than the hundreds of hours often needed to learn how to pilot larger aircraft. 

"In the longer term, our target is to build an aircraft that not only the super-rich can afford, and that can make private air transportation possible for a much wider number of people," co-founder and chief executive Daniel Wiegand told CNN, pitching it as a flying taxi for the masses.

4. Who needs hoverboards when Flyboard is in?

 

The brainchild of French jet-ski champion Franky Zapata, the Zapata Racing Flyboard comprises a large jet with vestigial footholds upon which the operator stands in flight.

A control stick is wired to the Flyboard, allowing its height, direction and speed to be controlled.

The Flyboard was first flown by Mr Zapata himself to spectacular effect last year:

Unlike the hoverboard in Back to the Future, it is capable of flight up to 10,000 feet (3,048m) high at a maximum speed of 150km/h, albeit limited to 10 minutes at a time, though the company does not state if all three specifications can be fulfilled simultaneously.

One thing is for sure though: anyone with one of these has no more excuses to be late for work.