Tech

Start-up launches £495,000 hoverbike in Japan

bbc– A Japanese start-up is hoping to convince motorists to swap their cars for a $680,000 (£495,000) hoverbike.

ALI Technologies’ XTurismo Limited Edition went on sale in Japan, earlier on Wednesday.

Electronics giant Mitsubishi and footballer Keisuke Honda are two backers of the Tokyo-based company.

ALI Technologies says the hoverbike can fly for 40 minutes at up to 100km/h (62mph) on a single charge.

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The company aims to have manufactured 200 single-rider 300kg (47-stone) hoverbikes by mid-2022.

Each is equipped with a conventional engine and four battery-powered motors.

“Until now, the choice has been to move on the ground or at scale in the sky,” ALI Technologies chief executive Daisuke Katano said.

“We hope to offer a new method of movement.”

Overcrowding is a big problem for Tokyo’s 13.5 million residents.

The high-tech city is the most populous metropolitan area in the world.

But current laws will prohibit the hoverbikes from flying over Japan’s busy roads.

Although, Mr Katano hopes rescue teams will use them to reach inaccessible areas.

‘Science fiction’

Ben Gardner, of Pinsent Masons, told BBC News vehicles that once seemed like the far-distant future were becoming more tangible every year.

“Ultimately, there is scope for us to see the vehicle being deployed in the UK,” he said.

The hoverbike would not be considered roadworthy under current UK law.

But Mr Gardner said a focus on new technologies in recent years could be signalling a change.

“The current trialling of emerging technologies such as driverless cars, autonomous robots and drones shows there is a blueprint for new forms of transport to move out of the realms of science fiction and into the real world,” he said.

Venture capitalists, aviation corporations and even rideshare company Uber, with its ambitious Uber Elevate, are staking claims on the burgeoning flying automotive industry, which analysts say could be worth as much as $1.5tn by 2040.

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