Do you remember those speeder bikes from Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi? Didn’t you think it would be so cool if you too could hover inches above the ground while roaring along at breakneck speeds? Apparently, now you can.
It’s called the Aerofex hover vehicle and it’s very much a real thing. It may not be quite as sleek and compact as its science fiction counterpart, but it is able to travel while flying a few inches off the ground. It does this by using a pair of ducted rotors, generating vertical lift. The interesting thing is that the design for this hover vehicle dates back to the 1960s, but it was abandoned due to stability issues. Aerofex fixed this with two knee-level control bars, relying on the pilot’s natural sense of balance to lean from side to side.
The advantage of being above the ground is obvious enough. If you have wheels, you need to have roads. If you’re going off-road, you need suitable tires and you could easily get stuck. By hovering inches above the ground, this vehicle is able to travel just about anywhere, regardless of the quality of existence of roads. The manned version has already been tested at up to 15 feet in the air and at speeds of up to 30 mph. It can probably go higher and faster, but they’ve limited themselves for safety reasons.
Unfortunately, Aerofex has no immediate ambitions to build and sell a commercially-available manned version. Instead, they’re looking at unmanned drones for agricultural, industrial and military applications. I guess we’ll have to find another way to get around Endor for now.