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Will hoverbike land in agriculture’s technology ‘toy chest’?

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  • According to the Aero-X folks, the hovercraft will ride like a motorcycle but up to 10 feet above the ground. Roads not required. The company claims the aerial all-terrain vehicle will fly up to 45 miles per hour.

While it’s only summertime, all I want for Christmas is the new Aero-X hoverbike. It’s not too early to add this flying toy to my Christmas list for 2017 – the predicted delivery year.

Co-worker Baker Patton at the Farm Press head office in Clarksdale, Miss. sent me a link on the Aero-X. After surfing the website – and watching a real person flying the aircraft – my mouth is drooling. It’s time to mop up the floor.

According to the Aero-X folks, the hovercraft will ride like a motorcycle up to 10 feet above the ground. No roads required. The company claims the aerial all-terrain vehicle will fly up to 45 miles per hour.

The product mockup on the site actually looks like a sandal with four wheels with two Lego people aboard – a driver with a friend behind - much like a snuggly motorcycle built for two.

The two aboard the craft should be Weight Watchers’ graduates still following the program. The website says the “useful load” capacity is 310 pounds and the “dry weight” max is 785 pounds. Unsure what those factoids mean.

Flight time is an estimated at 1.25 hours before re-fueling with gasoline (from pumps hovering 10-feet above Planet Earth - just kidding). Dunno if the engine is ethanol compatible.

The flying machine’s height is 4.1 feet, plus 6.8 feet wide. The length is almost 15 feet long. Time to expand the garage.

The Aero-X powertrain will include an aspirated three-rotor rotary engine with direct drive composite drive shafts and oil-cooled gearboxes. The aero bike takes off and lands vertically. A roll bar is included - an airbag is optional.

USB connection is included to enjoy the latest in interplanetary tunes.

The price is $85,000 + CPI. The $5,000 deposit may be refundable. Cash registers a’ringin?

The good news is the company building the Aero-X has a Manhattan Beach, Calif. address. It will not be manufactured by the Hasbro or Chia Pet folks.

Preliminary colors include red, blue, brown, and black – and of course the color green, the company touts, as a perfect fit for “aerial agriculture.”

This raises the question - how might this product and others hopeful to hit the market fit into production agriculture? A real-appearing photo on the website shows a hovercraft-type unit flying over a corn field with what appears to be a 12-row spray bar in front releasing uniform spray over the plants.

Imagine this device with a pest control advisor at the steering wheel looking for insect damage or nutrient issues in fields. While the flying device probably won’t install fence posts, think of the possibilities for ranchers finding lost cattle, or almond growers driving a hovercraft instead of a pick-up truck to move faster from orchard to orchard coordinating timely harvest activities.

Buckle up, agriculture. Farming’s future – the next generation - has arrived. 

Note: This blog is an informational piece only on technology in the pipeline. No financial or other compensation has been received. The Aero-X is not endorsed by Farm Press or this writer.    

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