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Hovercraft sports 'Star Wars' look

Aug. 23, 2012 at 9:01 PM   |   Comments

MOJAVE, Calif., Aug. 23 (UPI) -- A hovercraft resembling something out of "Star Wars" has intuitive controls allowing anyone to fly it without pilot training, its California-based creator says.

Aerofex says it has successfully updated a hovering flying bike design with two ducted rotors instead of wheels that was abandoned in the 1960s because of stability and rollover problems, InnovationNewsDaily reported.

Aerofex said the stability issue was overcome by creating a mechanical system of control bars at knee-level that allows the vehicle to respond to a pilot's leaning movements and natural sense of balance.

Limited human flight testing to a height of 15 feet and speeds of about 30 mph has been carried out in California's Mojave desert, the company said.

Although ducted-rotor craft can't fly as efficiently as helicopters because of their shorter rotor blades, their enclosed rotors have the advantage of a much smaller size and safety near humans, Aerofex founder Mark De Roche said.

"They are less efficient than a helicopter, which has the benefit of larger diameter rotors," De Roche said. "They do have unique performance advantages, though, as they have demonstrated flight within trees, close to walls and under bridges."

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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