I was 10 years old when I watched Return Of The Jedi for the first time, and I recall the conversation that I had with my father. I asked him if the machines in the movie were possible. He told me that if man can dream it, man can build it. That simple statement fueled endless hours of daydreaming about the speeder bikes in the movie, imagining how it would feel to ride one and what the controls would do. So, imagine my delight when I discovered that we are one step closer to this particular science-fiction machine becoming science-fact!

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I. Jetson Coming To An Operational Theater Near You
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I. Jetson Coming To An Operational Theater Near You
- image 635138
I. Jetson Coming To An Operational Theater Near You
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Apparently, someone (or more likely several someones) in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) shares my enthusiasm for such things. The U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is now cooperating with Malloy Aeronautics and Service Engineering to design an Army version of the current hoverbike prototype displayed at this year’s International Paris Airshow.

MA uses a 1,170 cc, four-stroke engine to turn two oak propellers, generating the thrust for lift and propulsion for the lightweight carbon-fiber airframe

DoD representatives are looking for a small craft to take over some of the roles that can currently only be accomplished with (big, expensive) helicopters, such as reconnaissance missions and logistics (the moving about of men and materiel). MA uses a 1,170 cc, four-stroke engine to turn two oak propellers, generating the thrust for lift and propulsion for the lightweight carbon-fiber airframe.

MA says that this version has a takeoff weight of nearly 600 pounds and can get around 91 miles from a tank of gas. Another version, the P2, drops the gas engine in favor of electric propulsion, and picks up another pair of blades to form a “quadcopter” that will serve as a sort of droid capable of following a soldier as a sort of pack mule, or follow an unmanned flight path for surveillance or supply missions.

They don’t say it, but I feel like this could also be a good platform for first-responders, medics and people just looking to have a heckuvalotta fun getting from point A to point B. There are other companies pursuing similar technology, and while they may not be building for the DoD, they are building, and I expect to see more and more of these sci-fi contraptions sooner rather than later.

Now, for all you would-be inventors out there, I am still waiting for my lightsaber!

Source: Military Times

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