Popular Mechanics reported Tuesday, that the Russian arms manufacturer, Kalashnikov, which made the famed AK-47 rifle is embarking on a new project — designing hoverbikes. The concept is similar to many existing hovercraft and flying car concepts — it is battery operated and stays in the air using 16 sets of rotors.
The vehicle, which hasn’t been named yet, was showcased at Russian defense giant Rostec’s headquarters on Tuesday. While the company has ventured into aviation with this latest effort, it will continue to make weapons and artillery, including the AK-47.
The company has been recently diversifying and is actually combining its weapons capabilities with self-navigating vehicles. Earlier this month, the company showcased its BAS-01 BM “Soratnik” self-driven vehicle with a gun turret, which can be autonomously fired.
What’s also important is that the hoverbikes will not be equipped with a diesel or gasoline engine, but rather, will be battery powered.
Apart from the battery, it has a seat for the driver, a metal skeleton and joysticks to maneuver the vehicle.
However, going by the official video, it doesn’t seem to be equipped for flying long distances. Unlike diesel or petrol vehicles, battery-powered flying vehicles are equipped to fly less than an hour, also the thin frame doesn’t give room to add much payload to the vehicle and also limits the number of rotors on the vehicle.
The video shows that a shell can be added on top of the metal frame, which could make for future applications.
But the concept can be scaled up and made capable of flying long distances and carrying bigger payloads. It is likely that the Russian military might use the concept in the future.
But it is not just the Russian military, the U.S. military is also working on a similar concept with Malloy Aeronautics, but that concept currently has a robot riding the hoverbike. The company is working on a human-driven version of the vehicle, similar to what the Russian company has already achieved.
While drones have been used by militaries for long, such vehicles might be better for short-range combat. It will also lower the cost of deployment. It could also carry food supplies and other kinds of payloads.
According to Tim Vong, associate chief of the U.S. army’s research lab protection division, having such vehicles at disposal is like having “Amazon on the battlefield.” The military will be able to resupply soldiers using such vehicles in 30 minutes.