THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
October 27, 2021 at 17:50 JST
A startup company specializing in drones showed off its “hoverbike,” a flying vehicle that will soon be available mainly for people with a lot of money and private land on their hands.
The one-passenger vehicle lifted off, hovered in the air and moved forward for about two minutes at the Fuji International Speedway in Oyama, Shizuoka Prefecture, on Oct. 26.
It reached as high as 3 meters from the ground.
Tokyo-based A.L.I. Technologies Inc. started developing the hoverbike, named XTurismo, in 2017.
A company official said the price tag for one XTurismo is 77.7 million yen ($680,000), including tax. A.L.I. Technologies will soon start accepting orders and deliver the vehicles as early as the first half of next year.
But the hoverbikes cannot be used on public roads because of a plethora of regulations. Currently, their use is restricted to private or other limited areas.
The vehicle is 3.7 meters long, 2.4 meters wide and 1.5 meters tall. It weighs about 300 kilograms.
Powered by an engine and motor, the XTurismo can hover with the use of two large propellers at the front and back.
It also has four assistant propellers on its sides, allowing the rider to make flight adjustments, such as correcting tilts.
It can fly for up to 40 minutes after an oil refill and on a fully charged battery, the company said.
“I am sure that air mobility will rapidly improve,” said Daisuke Katano, 36, president of the company. “We would like to continue to develop the vehicle so that it can be used on roads and fly in the sky.”
After improving the hoverbike’s safety, Katano said he wants to negotiate with the transport ministry to ease restrictions on its use on public roads from 2025.
According to the ministry, if the vehicle is used on public roads, it must be approved as a car under the Road Vehicles Law.
But if it is used as an aircraft, it must fly at an altitude of at least 150 meters under international agreements.
“If the (vehicle’s) safety and achievements are recognized worldwide, the creation of new rules could be discussed in the future,” a company official said.
(This article was written by Junichi Kamiyama and Shinya Takagi.)
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