Going around places on a personal skytrike akin to Luke Skywalker's speeder bike could soon become an enchanting reality, as a group of researchers successfully conclude the first manned test flight of a tricopter that could be mounted like a bicycle.
The Flike, a portmanteau of the words "fly" and "bike," is still in its prototype phase, but it has already gone through its first round of testing at the Miskolc Airfield in northeast Hungary. The first test involved carrying a 463-lb weight and saw the Flike taking off the ground for only a few seconds, although the tricopter was able to land back softly. In the second test, seen in the video below, the Flike hovers a few meters above the ground and lasts airborne for around a minute and a half.
"Flike is a revolutionary, all-electric personal flight device under development in Hungary," says the Flike team at Bay Zoltan Nonprofit, the largest applied research institute network in the country. "For the techies, it is a coaxial Y6-layout tricopter, which means that the lift is generated by six rotors grouped in counter-rotating pairs of three axes equally located around a circle."
The skytrike is powered by lithium polymer batteries that allow around 15 to 20 minutes of hovering and up to 40 minutes in cruise mode. The six fixed-pitch rotors made from carbon composite are driven by electric disc motors to keep the Flike airborne.
To control the Flike, its rider has to adjust the rotation speed of each of the individual rotors. This will allow the Flike to fly like a helicopter, rolling, banking, drifting, spinning, yawing, climbing, turning, sidling and diving. Moreover, the Flike is equipped with a flight management system that takes of flight stability, lateral position and altitude.
From a safety standpoint, the Flike team says the tricopter is as stable as a tripod. In the event that one of the rotors fail, Flike can provide emergency lift thanks to rotors grouped in counter-rotating pairs. However, it remains to be seen how Flike will address early concerns about the Flike's rotor blades chopping off the rider's head, or any other less important part of his body.
For now, the Flike continues to be in development, but its creators envision it as a commercial product that can be sold for profit in the future.