Police trial hoverbike for desert duty

DUBAI Police, already known for their big fleet of droolworthy cars and motorbikes, are trialling a revolutionary new patrol vehicle: a hoverbike with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capability.

Police say the aim is to create a first-response unit to get to places hard to reach by car.

Dubai’s police cars include  a Bugatti Veyron, McLaren MP4-12C, an extremely rare Aston Martin One-77, a Lamborghini Aventador, Ferrari FF, a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG,  a Bentley Continental GT, Audi R8, a Mercedes G class Brabus, a Nissan GTR, a Rolls-Royce and some Can Am Spyder superbikes.

There’s also a fleet of electric BMW i3s for traffic duties.

Police chief Major General Khamis Al Mazeina said the department kept upgrading its patrols, enhancing police presence and keeping up with international safety and security.

So far only one hoverbike has been bought, but Hoversurf said it was ready to build 40 more if the Emirates nation wants them.

Each hoverbike costs US$150,000 and is of carbon-fibre construction.

It has a 12.3kWh lithium manganese nickel battery, which equates to about 25 minutes of flight, depending on weather conditions.

Its four rotors can propel the bike to an altitude of only 5m, but it can reach 100km/h.

Two crews are being trained. Each rider (or pilot) has to have experience riding motorcycles and operating drones.

The hoverbike can also fly up to 40 minutes in drone mode with no driver.

Videos of initial trial flights look far from convincing with the pilot clearly not in his comfort zone, and one has to wonder about the safety of the operating officers and the public of a four-bladed 140kg device flying just a metre or two overhead.

However, it’s early days yet and the Hoverbike is still on trial.

Most of the constables would probably prefer to be in a Rolls-Royce.

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