Dubai Police Test Quadcopter Motorcycle

If you ever wish you could be on your quadcopter when you fly it, you will really want to see the video showing the Dubai police department testing the Hoverbike. The Russian company Hoversurf that markets the device doesn’t provide a lot of technical details, but it looks fairly simple. It is basically a motorcycle seat along with a big quadcopter. From the videos about the device, you can deduce that the pilot can control it or you can fly it remotely. You can see one of the videos, below.

There are a few things that worry us here. Of course, the huge spinning propellers as the pilot’s knee level should give you sweaty palms. In the demo, they even show the removal of the propeller guards before the test flight but let’s be honest, those don’t look like they would keep a falling pilot out of the rotors at all anyway. When looking beyond the hype we find it curious that the demo doesn’t show many (if any) shots of the pilot making a turn. The benefit of a vehicle like this to police should be maneuverability and from what we saw the Hoversurf is still limited.

So is it real? Hard to say. The short videos mostly show vertical or horizontal flight with no maneuvering. Is it hard to turn? Is the battery life really short? One other oddity: When we first saw a letter from the US Patent Office on their site, we thought they might have some new technology. However, that letter is simply showing they registered a trademark and doesn’t reference a patent. If there is a patent we want to know what is new and novel here.

Of course, we know it’s possible to build such a machine since we saw [Colin Furze] do it with two rotors instead of four. The US Department of Defense is working on something with a company called Malloy and there are other practical examples. There are also some less practical examples. What we’re really on the lookout for is a product that works so well it will actually be used. You know, like those Segways that airport police use, right?

We hope Hoversurf can bring this to market because we definitely want one. There’s no reason to think they can’t, but we do wish there were more details forthcoming.

69 thoughts on “Dubai Police Test Quadcopter Motorcycle

    1. I like all of my appendages right where they are. Attached…functioning. Just another manifistation of humanities stupidity boiling over. 🤷‍♂️ To be clear…which Batman are we talking about?

  1. The main thing is flight safety. Up to now all manned aircraft could land unpowered in case of power train trouble. When something (any of the four motors or controllers) fails you drop out of the sky and die unless you are very lucky and land in a pile of snow or hay. Both unreasonable to hope for in uae….

    1. Flying osterizer, and you’re between the blades, looks like with just inches to spare. Only direction to do a “get-off” is straight up and that’s not happening as will be in a tumble. He’s dead, Jim!

        1. Not pulling excessive Gs is the pilot’s responsibility, but could also be mediated by software. However that isn’t always wanted, because there could be situations where the pilot should be able to maneuver in a way that breaks the airframe to avoid a worse situation.

        2. If that happens in a regular airplane (i.e. a wing folds up on you), you’re just as toast. Less risk of laceration, sure, but you’re also likely going a lot faster and higher.

      1. Most police operations are going to be below 2000 ft agl, it takes a couple hundred feet for a ‘chute to deploy unless you’re holding it in your hand like in BASE jumping, even then it takes a while. Chasing some rich guy in a Lamborghini at building level probably won’t leave enough time for a parachute to be helpful.
        At which point a police helicopter with a good camera to catch license plate information & then mail the bench warrant / speeding ticket is more cost effective.

    1. So did the Williams Aerial Systems Platform (WASP) in the 70’s and the Williams X-Jet in the 1980’s. Build those with today’s materials and their speed, altitude and duration would be even better. Include current tech solid state gyros and accelerometers, GPS etc and it could be just about idiot proof. Give it straps to locate the pilot’s feet, grab the handles and hold still while the computer flies it to carry non-pilots to a location. With a bit of training a person could manually direct it, with advanced pilots being able to somewhat disable the flying aids – but they’d still kick in to prevent idiot moves that would crash it.

      Extra bonus, no choppy-chop danger to the pilot or other people, and it can land in and take off from a much smaller space.

      Police and EMTs could deploy from a flatbed truckload of these to get to the middle of a traffic pileup or leapfrog washed out or blocked roads and washed out bridges, landing in places where they’d have to be line dropped from helicopters. They could also hop from place to place faster than being hoisted up and moved with a helicopter.

      For military use a squad riding these could fly down streets, over any barriers that have been thrown up, land on buildings, hover at any level to fire into buildings, spread out and secure multiple locations. To do that from helicopters requires rappelling down ropes to rooftops and street level. If the helicopter can’t get down between buildings it’s either a long rope ride or dropping elsewhere and going in on foot. Using ground vehicles they either have to find routes around barricades or use heavier armored vehicles to plow through. Why not fly over at 60 MPH?

      If the enemy shoots one down you lose one soldier. If the enemy shoots down one helicopter you lose two pilots and several soldiers.

      1. Why do you think none of those gizmos have ever taken off? Surprise – safety (or rather the impossibility to make this acceptably safe even for military use, where some “losses” are acceptable) and fuel/power consumption. Today’s electronics & computers don’t solve any of those issues.

  2. I can’t help but notice that at 17 seconds in, there’s a brief shot of someone taking the guards off the propellers. I wonder if this had the same problem Colin Furze’s version did: that the thrust to weight ratio was so marginally over 1.0 that grams matter. Find the skinniest guy on the force, and still have to pare weight off the machine to account for his protective gear. Colin went the other way, and kept the guards on, but rode it with only his safety tie.

    1. All they have to do is make a hover trailer that has a gas powered generator which can charge the batteries during flight. They can pull it behind and fly a lot longer, ha ha.

    1. Good gust of wind will likely make this tumble out of the sky, killing the pilot and possibly someone on the ground too. Quadcopters are ok for unmanned drones where you don’t care so much about crashing – only your wallet gets hurt (usually).

      However, they are a horrible idea for actually transporting people. It is basically a helicopter, but with all good properties of a helo stripped out (such as the ability to autorotate, should an engine fail or low center of gravity that gives it stability in the air). And all you get instead is some handwaving about supposed maneuverability that nobody has managed to actually demonstrate so far. That an RC drone is maneuverable doesn’t mean a man-size “copter” will be too. The thing is much heavier than an RC drone and can lean only so much before it tips over, so the control authority is going to be limited vs a comparably sized helicopter. A helicopter has both a tail rotor to supplement yaw and a swashplate, which affects the rotor directly – much faster control system than steering something merely by the throttles. The engines and props also take time to spin up and down, especially at this size – physics is a bitch, the momentum takes a while to build up and then has to go somewhere when you are slowing the rotor down. Not to mention the wear you are putting on the engines and bearings if you try to maneuver aggressively – not a good idea if the motors are the only thing between you and the hard concrete down below

      And regarding safety – you better have a rocket powered parachute if planning to fly this above a few meters of height (otherwise if something goes bang at a low altitude the chute won’t open in time to save you from making a bloody mess below) and a good deity to pray to because you will need it. The best electronics can’t save you when you have no redundancy in the system.

      That something looked cool in Star Wars doesn’t mean that it is actually a viable mean transport in reality (or even a good idea at all). It is sad that it will again take someone getting killed (most likely some innocent passengers) before people realize this :(

        1. That’s basic hovering in ground effect, not something I would call “nimble”. Compare it with this:

          Of course, no normal pilot would fly it like this under normal conditions as it is incredibly dangerous (smallest mistake or failure = instant death). But it shows well what a helo can do. I have to see a video with a man-sized multicopter doing anything close to this, at comparable speeds.

          1. It took decades until conventional helicopters got to this point. The 1940’s & 50’s versions were pretty tame in performance.

            Given time, multicoptors will get there, even only if for niche applications.

          2. I think there’s a physics problem with the momentum of the blades in upsized copters, meaning you won’t get near the agility because you can’t spin them significantly faster over a short timescale.

        2. Ground effect traditionally has to be about within a wing width to make a big difference. About a rotor radius for a helicopter. This is above that for much of the video (of course in this case of a massively-multirotor design, the effective rotor radius is a little less than half the overall width).

          These things aren’t actually hard to get basically working with a decent thrust to weight ratio if you design them properly. You really don’t have to rely on ground effect (like Colin Furze did), it’s just not necessary. It’s a fake gotcha common among youtube commentators, but betrays only a passing knowledge of aerodynamics.

          The issue is practicality, safety, flight time, and if, at the end of the day, you’d be better off with just a regular helicopter.

          I’m optimistic that multirotors will improve on helicopters a bit. Helicopters actually are great, but they have very high maintenance costs due to extreme vibration and a whole bunch of crazy moving parts. Electronically controlled brushless motors could, in principle, improve on that.

          1. Exactly. The whole reason why multirotors like this might be better is they can reduce the need for complex mechanical linkages, thus reducing wear. Sacrifice that too much, and you should just use a helicopter.

        1. Actually, I changed my mind, or added another thing to try anyway… Get an ultralight autogyro, put a lightweight outrunner on it to spin the blades up fast, electric, have light battery storage that has a couple of mins power at most, all the generator you can fit on the engine, with an electric clutch. Then, just goose the rotor drive when you wanna go straight up.

    1. In the saw-stop en even more bulky crush/crumple-zone like material, perhaps some aluminum honeycomb structure is propelled in the path of the saw blade with a powerful mechanism to brake (and possibly break) the blade. The destruction of this block absorbs the energy of the blade. No good thing on a multicopter and sure to bulky and heavy for this application.

  3. LMAO. This is bush league shit. They look so stoked to be doing what kids at community college pull off on a weekly basis at this point in history. Looks like it needs a LOT of work.

  4. If I were riding that, my big problem would be my legs aching from the constant twitching I’d be doing, arms too, to keep them well away from those propellors. My neck would ache from my rigid, terrified position, and I wouldn’t be able to see where I was going since I’d constantly be glancing at the props / my precious flesh.

    That thing really, really, really needs proper guards around the props. Unfortunately that must hurt the airflow quite a bit, because all fan-type vehicles like this (ie blades to the side, or below, rather than above like a helicopter) seem to really skimp on blade guards, when for any real long-term use, they’d be vital.

    You need to be agile with a thing like that, to shift your weight about, maybe move a foot to another part of the structure to balance and apply your weight, make it tilt and yaw. You’re also in the friggin’ sky. Really needs blade guards, and that’s their problem. If they can’t do it, nobody should ride this thing for longer than it takes for irresistible curiosity to turn into mortal dread.

    Really, sticking a bunch of fans to X, until X can fly, isn’t aeronautical engineering.

    Why not try a jet engine instead? And use VTOL type thruster nozzles, like the Harrier Jump Jet. Smoothly swinging them about would give you lots of agility and manoeuverability. Probably best to have a computer actually in charge of flying it, translating the pilot’s intent into whatever advanced maths related to the thing is needed.

    Doing it as a jump jet rather than some awful helicopter thing means no exposed blades. Also potentially much more power and speed.

    1. Yah, they “thrust vector” those turbines though because turbines don’t speed up or slow down fast enough for quick adjustments, so they have the nozzles splay in and out to dump portions of the thrust… This is not terribly economical you’ll find, and hence why it’s only military aircraft that use that system, and despite it’s capability why they tend to favour ski jump launch ramp facilities on the carriers that use them, rather than relying on VTOL.

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