Japanese drone maker’s flying motorcycle to take to the skies next year


SHIZUOKA PREFECTURE, Japan – On an almost empty racetrack at the foot of Mount Fuji, a Tokyo-based drone startup unveiled its vision for the future of transportation: a flying motorcycle capable of reaching speeds of up to at 100 km / h.

In a scene straight out of a sci-fi movie, the driver set the Xturismo on fire, which rose several meters above the ground and rolled down the track for about a minute and a half. Reporters and guests – all wearing earplugs against the deafening noise – watched.

Developed by ALI Technologies, the “hoverbike”, as the company describes it, weighs 300 kg and is capable of carrying a single rider. According to the company, it can travel at its maximum speed for up to 40 minutes.

ALI, which is backed by Kyocera and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Venture Capital, began taking orders for the motorcycle on the same day it was unveiled and plans to deliver the limited series of 200 vehicles to customers by the first half of the year. next year. The price is set at 77.7 million yen ($ 682,000).

Powered primarily by an internal combustion engine, Xturismo relies on two main propellers to stay aloft. The bike is equipped with the same altitude control technology that ALI uses in its drone products, allowing it to glide smoothly through the air.

“We would like to offer a new lifestyle with this floating vehicle,” CEO Daisuke Katano said at the unveiling ceremony.

In addition to recreation, the bicycle could also be used to help rescue people in accidents on the water, said a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in Japan who attended the ceremony.

ALI’s four-year accomplishment comes as the race to sell flying motorcycles intensifies around the world. The American company JetPack Aviation recently declared that it had passed a flight test of a prototype of the Speeder, putting itself on the path of a launch as early as 2023. Pre-orders start at $ 380,000. The French startup Lazareth is also developing a flying motorcycle.

“We would like to offer a new lifestyle with this floating vehicle,” said Daisuke Katano, Managing Director of ALI Technologies. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

Investment has been pouring in in flying cars, with Toyota Motor investing 43 billion yen in US company Jobby Aviation in January 2020. HT Aero, a flying car startup backed by Chinese electric vehicle company Xpeng, said the week last to have raised more than 500 million dollars in its last round of table.

Honda Motor revealed last month that it is developing a flying car as part of its 5,000 billion yen of research and development over the next six years.

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