A prototype for the "hoverbike" that was commissioned by the U.S. military has finally been unveiled during a demonstration for Department of Defense officials.
The Joint Tactical Aerial Resupply Vehicle (JTARV), already two years in the making, started as a Kickstarter project by Malloy Aeronautics, who worked with defense company Survice Engineering Co. to develop the technology. With a current payload capacity of up to 300 pounds, the quadcopter could one day be used to shuttle supplies to soldiers on the battlefield quickly.
"Anywhere on the battlefield, soldiers can potentially get resupplied in less than 30 minutes," said Tim Vong, associate chief of the Army Research Laboratory’s Protection Division, who worked on the project together with the Marine Corp.
The current prototype used for the demonstration in the video is electric, but the team behind it is looking to develop a hybrid propulsion system that they hope will increase the JTARV's capacity to 800 pounds, extend its range to 125 miles, and increase its speed capability to more than 96 km/h (60 mph). Further on, they hope to be able to integrate intelligent navigation and mission planning into the technology, thus creating a machine that can serve in more challenging missions.
The hoverbike joins the growing number of high-tech military devices that are reshaping modern warfare, often in ways that help keep soldiers safer.