The U.S. Department of Defense announced plans to develop and field “hover bikes” a few years ago – the Army’s three propeller design began testing in January, and has already seen a shift away from use as a single-soldier mode of transportation, and toward being used as a supply drone that is merely capable of transporting soldiers into and out of the battlefields of the future. Why this transition in methodology? Well, as you could see in “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi,” super-fast, flying motorcycles with no form of ballistic or collision protection offer a whole new slew of potential dangers to American troops other than merely being shot down.
The U.S. Army and Marine Corps are continuing with their development of their hoverbike, called the Joint Tactical Aerial Resupply Vehicle, or JTARV, even if it may see more use as a drone than as a troop transport, but that hasn’t stopped the Dubai police force from purchasing a Russian version of the platform to issue to law enforcement officers that need the ability to zoom above the Ferrari-laden traffic jams of a city that boasts gold bar ATM machines.
That’s right, residents of the city of Dubai will soon see police officers flying around the city in Russian built Hoversurf Scorpions. The only question is… why?
With a maximum suggested safe operating altitude of around 20 feet, a maximum speed of about forty miles per hour, and the ability to fly for only about 25 minutes or “six kilometers,” one could be hard pressed to think of a single valuable use for this new police-craft, even in a city that boasts some of the most exotic police vehicles on the planet.
The American JTARV, on the other hand, is currently estimated to have a range of around 125 miles on a charge of its electric motors, with a payload capacity of nearly 800 pounds (as compared to the Hoversurf Scorpion’s 660). The JTARV is also capable of flying at altitudes in the thousands of feet at speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour. It’s important to note, that even the much more capable American craft has had its own share of critics, wondering why America needs to send soldiers into a warzone on what amounts to high-speed horseback, when other forms of aircraft are faster and offer better protection. These criticisms, in part, may have led to the shift toward using the JTARV as a resupply drone, rather than personal transportation.
Dubai’s hover-cycles are also said to possess drone capabilities, and will come equipped with a camera and electronics package intended to help identify dangerous drivers in traffic, among other things, but Dubai is primarily hailing the Scorpion’s ability to get officers above traffic as the reason for the purchase, enabling them to respond to emergencies faster – assuming those emergencies take place within a six kilometer round trip of where the officer currently has his hover-bike parked.
You can watch the Dubai Police Hoverbike announcement video below:
Image courtesy of YouTube