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Transportation Technology

Flying Bicycle Is Real, Takes First Flight 123

Posted by Soulskill
from the yes,-you-were-definitely-the-first-one-to-think-of-an-ET-joke dept.
colinneagle writes "Bringing us one step closer to the hover-boards and flying cars that mid-20th century pop culture had predicted we would have by the year 2000, three Czech companies have come together to develop a functional flying bicycle. Designed by Technodat, Evektor, and Duratec, the flying bicycle weighs a little more than 187 lbs and limits its takeoff weight to about 350 lbs, according to a report from Polish bicycle news site Biketrendy. The report claims the bicycle, which is still just a prototype, is capable of staying in the air for about six minutes, although the companies working on the project hope to extend that to 50 minutes and top speeds of about 30 miles per hour. Currently, the fans propelling the bicycle are powered by a 50Ah battery."
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Flying Bicycle Is Real, Takes First Flight

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  • Noisy isn't it. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by davesag (140186) on Friday June 14, 2013 @05:34PM (#44011505) Homepage

    Seriously I think the greatest invention of the 21st C could be silent fans. That bike looks like great fun but the noise is a killer.

    • by Spy Handler (822350) on Friday June 14, 2013 @05:41PM (#44011563) Homepage Journal

      Maybe they could attach Dyson bladeless fans on it.

      No Buffeting!

    • by Animats (122034) on Friday June 14, 2013 @05:58PM (#44011749) Homepage

      Seriously I think the greatest invention of the 21st C could be silent fans.

      The USAF has been working on "stealth helicopters" for years. They haven't been able to make them silent, but they can make them sound like wind noise, eliminating the distinctive "whap-whap-whap" blade sounds.

      • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Friday June 14, 2013 @06:43PM (#44012021) Homepage

        eliminating the distinctive "whap-whap-whap" blade sounds.

        No mom, it was a helicopter!

      • by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday June 14, 2013 @08:30PM (#44012595) Journal

        The USAF has been working on "stealth helicopters" for years. They haven't been able to make them silent, but they can make them sound like wind noise, eliminating the distinctive "whap-whap-whap" blade sounds.

        The first trick is spreading the noise out over a larger range of frequencies.
        You can accomplish this by changing the rotor blade spacing to reduce harmonics.
        So instead of equally spaced rotors, the distance between them is unequal, which mitigates that whap-whap-whap sound.

        The second big method involves actively "flapping" the rotors.
        This lets you change the plane of the rotor just enough to miss the vortex from the previous rotation.
        By always traveling through smooth air, you can minimize uneven pressure waves which create noise.

        The rest of the tweaks are aerodynamic adjustments to the blade tips/materials/shape.
        And last but not least, throttle back and reduce the rotor speed.

    • Seriously I think the greatest invention of the 21st C could be silent fans. That bike looks like great fun but the noise is a killer.

      That bike looks like great fun if you happen to be an anorexic child-size styrofoam dummy.

      If you happen to be a real human being slightly over 100 pounds (or slightly over 45 kg, which is really not a lot), that bike will probably just barely lift off the ground.

      • by xevioso (598654) on Friday June 14, 2013 @06:26PM (#44011947)

        Speaking as an anorexic child-size styrofoam dummy, I can say that that actually doesn't look like much fun. We prefer to remain completely immobile, staring off into space. But I would image you humans would get a kick out of riding such a thing.

        • by Alsee (515537) on Friday June 14, 2013 @07:32PM (#44012285) Homepage

          350 pound flight capacity minus 187 pound vehicle weight seems to indicate a 163 pound (74 kilo) passenger limit. Not great, but that's certainly not "anorexic child-size styrofoam dummy" either. I'm an adult male, I could get there if I cut out the peanutbuttercups and switched to diet soda.

          Oh well, I guess that means I'm never going to be able to ride it. Diet soda is vile.
          How about they work on inventing that? Soda that tastes like sugar-water without being sugar-water? Chuckle.

          -

          • 350 pound flight capacity minus 187 pound vehicle weight seems to indicate a 163 pound (74 kilo) passenger limit. Not great, but that's certainly not "anorexic child-size styrofoam dummy" either.

            And yet, that's not the weight they actually used for their demo flight, not even close, otherwise they would have used a normal-sized dummy, or a dummy that you can fill up with weights to approximate the weight of a real person (even a small real person).

            So when they say that their "takeoff weight" is "about 350 lbs", I'm assuming they mean it's the maximum weight that would be sufficient to lift their apparatus just 1 millimeter off the ground for just about half a second, and no more.

            In my experience, I

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Artifakt (700173)

            I'd be skin and bones at 170. I can stay at 200 and still be under 16% bodyfat. OTOH, maybe it will scale. Get it to a base payload of about 250 lbs, and I'd give it a try.

            If you want diet that tastes like sugar, there are some options:

            For the big producers:
            Pepsi's Aquafina FlavorSplash waters - grape, raspberry and wild berry, use just Sucralose, (a 0 calorie substitute) last I checked. No other Pepsi products use just Sucralose to my knowledge, but rather mix it with something else such as Apartamine and/

          • by iamhassi (659463)

            350 pound flight capacity minus 187 pound vehicle weight seems to indicate a 163 pound (74 kilo) passenger limit. Not great, but that's certainly not "anorexic child-size styrofoam dummy" either. I'm an adult male, I could get there if I cut out the peanutbuttercups and switched to diet soda.

            Oh well, I guess that means I'm never going to be able to ride it. Diet soda is vile.
            How about they work on inventing that? Soda that tastes like sugar-water without being sugar-water? Chuckle.

            -

            Or if maybe they removed the large bicycle frame and tires, that would shed some weight? World's lightest bike is 6 lbs but costs $45,000 which is far too much. [bikeradar.com] This aluminum bike is more reasonably priced at $1700 and weighs only 15 lbs. [findthebest.com] Average bicycle weighs 30+ lbs, so that extra 15 lbs saved could mean the difference between lifting off the ground or not. [answers.com]

            Also I'm not sure what those cages around the fan blades are suppose to acheive since the cage gap is huge, anything could be sucked in there,

            • by Alsee (515537)

              Also I'm not sure what those cages around the fan blades are suppose to acheive since the cage gap is huge, anything could be sucked in there, needs to be a cage more like a desktop fan.

              I presume the cages are sized to keep body parts out.

              Unfortunately the laws of physics seriously don't like your suggestion of tighter cages. At low air speeds and with abundant power available you can use tight cages no problem. But when you're at high air velocities to get substantial thrust and where power efficiency is crucial, any obstruction in the air stream is a serious issue. Aerodynamic drag is proportional to velocity squared. When you multiply air speed by ten, the drag caused by each cage wire

          • Ever heard of stevia [wikipedia.org]? Thats what they use in asia for diet soda; it also happens to be the original sweetener for the very first ginger based drink invented in Ireland i think.

            Due to corporate interests it had decades of baseless opposition in US, it was finally allowed to sell recently but not in ready made foods/drinks meaning your diet soda still comes with artificial crap.

            You could at least replace sugar with this in drinks like coffee. Try it, but remember its 200x sweeter than sugar so careful with do

          • Also the fake sugars in diet soda are bad for brain function (can cause add like symptoms) and can trick you body into thinking it needs to store up energy. Diet sodas can actually cause you to gain weight.

            Mycroft
      • I weigh 165 pounds, so I'd probably be able to pilot this thing.

        Sign me the hell up.

    • by slick7 (1703596)

      Seriously I think the greatest invention of the 21st C could be silent fans. That bike looks like great fun but the noise is a killer.

      Considering what the Wright brothers did at Kittyhawk, give it a couple of generations and I suppose it will go commercial unless it's tagged for national security and turned into a weapon.

  • not a bicycle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by optikos (1187213) on Friday June 14, 2013 @05:35PM (#44011517)
    electric scooter or motorcycle maybe, but no flight via manual pedal-power-only means not a flying bicycle
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Mod this up! I was about to post the same thing.

      It is a battery and big fans strapped to a bicycle. I fail to see how this is very novel, as one could strap big fans to almost anything.

      Now - something purely human-powered that could fly would be impressive, but this is not.

      • Re:not a bicycle (Score:5, Informative)

        by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday June 14, 2013 @05:53PM (#44011693)

        Now - something purely human-powered that could fly would be impressive, but this is not.

        It might be impressive, but it would not be new. Flying bicycles have been around for a while. The Gossamer Albatross [wikipedia.org] was pedaled over the English Channel in 1979, a distance of over 22 miles.

        The hard part is not getting a bicycle to fly, but to get it to hover with human power.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Now - something purely human-powered that could fly would be impressive, but this is not.

          It might be impressive, but it would not be new. Flying bicycles have been around for a while. The Gossamer Albatross [wikipedia.org] was pedaled over the English Channel in 1979, a distance of over 22 miles.

          The hard part is not getting a bicycle to fly, but to get it to hover with human power.

          This may have been achieved today. See here:

          http://www.wired.com/autopia/2013/06/human-powered-helicopter-won/

        • by Alsee (515537)

          The hard part is not getting a bicycle to fly, but to get it to hover with human power.

          Nah, hovering is easy. The hard part is keeping your dirigible-bike from floating away into the sky when you hop off.

          -

        • There have been several attempts at human powered helicopters [wikipedia.org] over the years, but from a practical standpoint the power to weight ratios required for effective rotary winged flight are so high that the human body, even in peak physical form, simply isn't capable of producing them for more than a few seconds and even then it's just barely enough to lift the person doing the work and an extremely light machine a few feet of the ground for a very short duration before gravity wins the contest.

        • The hard part is not getting a bicycle to fly, but to get it to hover with human power.

          Well as I haven't learned to trackstand yet, whenever I stop my bicycle I have to place one foot on the ground. If trackstanding is a land-side "hover", most cyclists are used to not having it. I call "unnecessary" and would love to see a production flying push-bike.

      • Yep: this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gossamer_Albatross [wikipedia.org]
        or this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIT_Daedalus [wikipedia.org]
        would have better claim to be flying bicycles...

        Although I do suspect that a flying Electrical Assisteb Bicycle could be a very interesting compromise enabling people "aircycle" withouth being bicycle champions...
        A 400W electrical motor added to a 200W of human energy (from somebody in ok shape but very far from being a champion) might be enough to overcome
        a) the not so lightweight human weight
        b) the we

      • by Rixel (131146)

        Do you know how I know you aren't a peeping tom? lol

    • electric scooter or motorcycle maybe, but no flight via manual pedal-power-only means not a flying bicycle

      That was my first thought too. My second thought is that if they put a charging device that worked off pedal power, then it would technically qualify. Of course, you might have to pedal for a whole week to power your six minute flight...

      • by Rich0 (548339)

        electric scooter or motorcycle maybe, but no flight via manual pedal-power-only means not a flying bicycle

        That was my first thought too. My second thought is that if they put a charging device that worked off pedal power, then it would technically qualify. Of course, you might have to pedal for a whole week to power your six minute flight...

        Not sure why they bother with the wheels. You'd have to pedal a week just to get this thing up a hill on the ground. 187 pounds for the bike itself? Good luck strapping that onto your car!

    • electric scooter or motorcycle maybe, but no flight via manual pedal-power-only means not a flying bicycle

      Even worse, I bet they don't give you a hedgehog-in-a-cage key fob for free with the bike.

    • by Deadstick (535032)

      It's half of a Moller Skycar.

  • A real tear jerker, it was.

  • by TsuruchiBrian (2731979) on Friday June 14, 2013 @05:37PM (#44011533)
    If it's not powered by pedaling, then what's the point of the bicycle part? You just bolt a bicycle to the inside of the cockpit of a 747 and then say it's a flying bicycle. Not only that you probably don't even have to do much testing to be sure it will work.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      If it's not powered by pedaling, then what's the point of the bicycle part?

      To keep people from saying it's already been done? It still looks like a stupid ET prop and isn't a path to anything practical. World's most expensive leaf blower anyone?

    • by Rixel (131146)

      Maybe it's meant just to help you get over ditches, crevasses and busy highways that you come across in your travels

      • by Rich0 (548339)

        At 187 pounds you won't be travelling all that far. If you're going to make a 187 pound bicycle you should at least make it a motorcycle.

    • If it's not powered by pedaling, then what's the point of the bicycle part?

      Aside from the click-bait value of having that word in the title, I suppose having the bicycle would be handy for moving the device from point A to point B when the battery is out of juice (which will probably be 99% of the time).

      You just bolt a bicycle to the inside of the cockpit of a 747 and then say it's a flying bicycle.

      That wouldn't work for my daily telecommute. Assuming I could even pedal the 747 out of the airport i'd fly into, I would have a heck of a time finding a parking spot for it near my workplace.

    • by b4upoo (166390) on Friday June 14, 2013 @06:01PM (#44011773)

      You are spot on. It is a quad copter and it could be a bicycle or a rowboat in the center. It is interesting that a 50ah battery can power it for five minutes.
                        It will be a lot more interesting when one of these things sets down of pedestrians and becomes a multi station guillotine.

    • If they can make it last longer than 6 minutes to fly over the cliff.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That's an awesome idea!

      Bolt the bicycle to the hood of a 747 and sell the seat as 'extreme sport' class. Who knows how much Business class will pay extra just to get that seat! It'd be worth every penny. Think of the view!

      I'll die a happy man if I get to see bicycle hood ornaments on 747s in my life time.

    • by Alsee (515537)

      I had the same reaction, that strapping a bicycle to it seemed totally irrelevant. But I guess you can bike down to the river, fly across, and continue biking. And if you don't mind burning some of your flight time you can use the batteries to power the bike. That gives you a combination of long ground range with the ability to fly over terrain or traffic at will. Cute. Too bad you're stuck with those big bulky fans all around it in cycle mode. If those could fold down compactly it would actually be a prett

      • by bpkiwi (1190575)
        What if the fans were mounted in the middle of the wheels, and tilted from vertical to horizontal when needed. There would need to be some kind of stand on the bike that held it in place while the wheels tilted around, and some handling of the rear wheel chain/shaft linkage, but that shouldn't be hard to do.
      • by Rich0 (548339)

        I had the same reaction, that strapping a bicycle to it seemed totally irrelevant. But I guess you can bike down to the river, fly across, and continue biking. And if you don't mind burning some of your flight time you can use the batteries to power the bike. That gives you a combination of long ground range with the ability to fly over terrain or traffic at will.

        The moment you power it for ground operations it isn't a bicycle in the classic sense of the word - it is a motorcycle or moped or two-wheeled aircraft or whatever you want to call it. If not, then we already have thousands of flying tricycles in the air already.

        At 187lbs this is useless as a classic bicycle. You'd probably need a downward slope just to get the wheels rolling fast enough so that it doesn't tip over on otherwise-level ground.

  • I'd push it well over the takeoff weight. I guess I'll have to wait until they make a flying tandem bicycle.
  • Gossamer Albatross (Score:5, Informative)

    by Danzigism (881294) on Friday June 14, 2013 @05:38PM (#44011539)
    The Gossamer Albatross is a human-powered aircraft built by American aeronautical engineer Dr. Paul B. MacCready's company AeroVironment. On June 12, 1979 it completed a successful crossing of the English Channel to win the second Kremer prize. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gossamer_Albatross [wikipedia.org] I'd like to see more of these. This was over 30 years ago. C'mon people.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 14, 2013 @07:06PM (#44012139)

      There have been around 100 successful human-powered aircraft built over the years. The problem is they're not useful because we're not that powerful. A helicopter-type aircraft needs ~600W to lift a human, and only a few humans can put out that kind of power for any non-trivial period. A fixed-wing aircraft can get by with less power -- on the order of 300W in clean air w/ground effect -- but even that is a lot of power for the average person (~150W is a more typical number for an hour, and over the course of several hours ~75W).

  • flying electric scooter or flying electric motorcycle maybe, but no flight via pedal-only power means not a flying bicycle
  • But you'll never see these things enter mass production. Know why? It's not energy density of batteries, it's not insurance or liability or rain or piloting skills.

    It's shrapnel. These things will blow crap in every direction. Every pebble or bottle cap on the driveway or street will risk hurting someone, or worse, damaging someone's precious property. A nice demo, nothing more.

  • odd definition (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tverbeek (457094) on Friday June 14, 2013 @05:44PM (#44011593) Homepage
    So by "flying bicycle" they mean "personal hovercraft built around a bicycle".

    Besides, wasn't something like the Gossamer Condor [wikipedia.org] (built way back when I was a lad, in the 1970s) closer to the concept of a "flying bicycle"? Pedal powered, and able to fly, and it even had two wheels.
    • by Alsee (515537)

      Pardon the nitpicking, but hovercraft are ground effect vehicles, generally with a skirt. A more appropriate label here would be "quadcopter strapped to a bike".

      -

  • This is a test comment. Please ignore. Or moderate the hell out of it; fair enough. I work here. ;-)
  • ETless (Score:4, Funny)

    by Rixel (131146) on Friday June 14, 2013 @05:48PM (#44011635)

    Look Ma, no alien!

  • But it's not ready for people due to the batteries weight and who wants to hear of a yet another dummy flying.

  • Is a 50 minute flight time even a remote possibility?

    I suppose that if it does 6 minutes now, and 4x higher density batteries are supposed to be available as prototypes, then that's 24 minutes. If you then doubled the mass of batteries carried...maybe?

  • this thing looks more like a hovercraft on a bike frame. and why a 50amp battery you would get more flight time using gas powered fans.
  • I like the Aerofex or Chris Malloy's Hoverbike designs a lot better, the "flying motorcycle" in this article seems a quite inefficient for the task of flying. While I can definitely see the advantages of a dual role vehicle (hover bike for long distance, motorcycle for in town). Something more aircraft with the motorcycle parts added on would seem preferable, not the other way around.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akA-B64RACU [youtube.com]
    http://www.hover-bike.com/ [hover-bike.com]

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      The hover bike website is awesome if you have been [re]watching X-Files lately and read "Hoverbike Applications [cr] Aerial Cattle mustering" as "...cattle mutilation"... which would have explained the lack of footprints etc.

  • Well, Microsoft executives perfected the flying chair.

  • It's obviously not a bicycle. It's still cool though, and here's why.

    You could fly this as an ultralight aircraft. Whether or not you could street it is another matter; but getting rid of the wings is the first step. Having the propellers enclosed in a cage is nice too.

    You wanted a flying car? OK, no go; but this could be a flying motorcycle . It could soar over regulatory hurdles.

    • Technically "bicycle" means "two wheels", which this has.
    • Eliminating wings is not the way to acheive light weight — reducing the wing weight is. The lightest powered aircraft in the world are paramotors — you can get the full kit at under 20kg (for a light person). Most of that weight (~75%) is the motor — the wing is made of woven fabric. Helicopters are notorious fuel-hogs, because it takes a bucketload of energy to fight gravity by directly generating a counterforce. That means a powerful engine. That means more weight than a wing.

      There'

      • by istartedi (132515)

        Eliminating wings is not the way to acheive light weight

        No, but it is the way to get something down a highway lane. Yes, you could fold the wings; but that makes the transition to and from flight mode more of a hassle.

  • by lahvak (69490) on Friday June 14, 2013 @08:01PM (#44012457) Homepage Journal

    by zbledl zavisti!

    Maybe somebody can invent something that will make slashdot finally support unicode?

  • I want a flying segway for my sister-in-law.
  • And I'm not surprised it was done in the Czech Republic. See, the plans of Jan Tleskac for a flying bicycle were the central mcguffin to the plot of several "Rapid Arrows" (Rychle Sipy in original) novels by Jaroslav Foglar, an exponent of Boy Scout movement back home in the late 40s - lot of kids remember his works which were even made into TV series , as well as the "caged hedgehog" puzzle.
    • "Rapid Arrows"? More like "Swift Arrows". I'm not a native but I suspect that "rapid" with respect to missile weapons usually refers to rate of fire.
      • by VAElynx (2001046)
        I only know the way it's called in Czech - I don't know how it'd translate properly; English is not my mothertongue.
      • And rapid refers to more [reference.com] than just missiles, though "swift" would catch the meaning as well. As far as I recall, they were named by some girl who appreciated how fast they solved something or came to help the weaker ones, something like that.
  • by Ghjnut (1843450)
    Why are there wheels? So they could call it a bike? Maybe you just ride it around like a regular bike for a while before REMEMBERING YOU COULD FLY.
  • Yeah it's never going to happen, as in , permitted... legal. Have fun flying on your farm. Why? A body in motion tends to stay in motion. Flying cars and flying bikes and such like ,when they go out of control, go out of control. Nothing to stop it from coming down pretty much anywhere, or flying forward without restrained.

    Friction is what keeps cars relatively safe. Plus, physical curbs, dedicated roads, safety rails etc etc. Just regular people flying here there everywhere at a decent speed... the safety

  • Would have made just a good of a story.

  • That aint no bike. You'd never be able to deliver the energy to get airborne by pushing pedals. A flying moped or e-bike at best.
  • Strikes me as being a bit heavy at 95kg without a pilot/rider. Since the bicycle part doesn't need to be a bicycle but just somewhere to sit, a lightweight carbon fibre/aluminium frame would be a much better choice, surely?
    • by asdf7890 (1518587)
      I presume the assumption is that you'd use it as an inconvenient cycle when the battery power got low, or for parts of your journey where being off the ground would be even less safe (built up areas with many over-head communication and power lines, for instance).
  • First though: I need one of them.

    Second thoughts: I wonder how many minutes it would take before I killed myself with it, and how many innocent lives I'd take with me?
  • All it requires is one telekinetic E.T. You can fly a fleet of bikes with just one.
  • Who voted this up? I fucken bike with fans underneath? So underwhelming.

  • Who's bicycle is this?; this is not a bicycle honey, it's a chopper. It's zed's Chopper.
      Zed's dead.

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