Someone in the US Army must have loved Star Wars, because the American military is now on its way towards developing the hoverbikes featured in the sci-fi classic and implementing them in real-world battlefields.
The design of the new vehicle will apparently be taken straight from the scenes of Luke Skywalker and the ewoks hurtling through the forest moon of Endor in the 1983 film Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
A deal was recently reached by the US Department of Defense that will have engineers in the US and UK combine forces on the project, reports Reuters, with the research and development taking place in Harford County, Maryland.
The floating vehicles will be able to function somewhat similarly to helicopters but allow for greater maneuverability due to their futuristic design, and can be used in both military, as well as emergency aid operations.
"The Department of Defense is interested in Hoverbike technology because it can support multiple roles," said Mark Butkiewicz, an employee at the US company Survice tasked with developing the new vehicles.
"It can transport troops over difficult terrain and when it's not used in that purpose it can also be used to transport logistics, supplies, and it can operate in both a manned and unmanned asset."
Grant Stapleton of the UK company Malloy Aeronautics discussed the advantage of hoverbikes over helicopters.
"Primarily there's safety," Stapleton told Reuters. "With adducted rotors you immediately not only protect people and property if you were to bump into them, but if you ever were to bump into somebody or property it's going to bring the aircraft out of the air."
As noted the research will be centered in Maryland, where officials are welcoming the project and the jobs it will bring to the state.
"I think there can be a lot of applications, and maybe I'll be the fifth or sixth person to ride it. I'm going to wait until a couple of people ride it before me," Maryland Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford said jokingly.