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Forget drones. The Army could soon be using hovering speeder bikes.

Star Wars fans will no doubt remember that epic scene from "Return of the Jedi" in which Luke chases down a pair of fleeing scout troopers on a speeder bike. Well, get ready, because the U.S. military is designing a real-life version of that hovering vehicle.

The prototype, which is being developed by Malloy Aeronautics and SURVICE Engineering, doesn't come with blaster cannons. But the Defense Department is imagining the carbon-fiber Hoverbike as a "multi-role tactical reconnaissance" vehicle that can be used to support a variety of missions, such as carrying supplies or gathering intelligence, according to Reuters.

The two companies have a contract with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, to do research and development on the Hoverbike, according to Malloy. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but U.K.-based Malloy is setting up an office in Maryland just so that it can test the product closer to its customer.

The real selling point for the U.S. Army appears to be that hoverbikes offer a cheap, reliable alternative to traditional helicopters. It has fewer moving parts and is therefore easier to maintain, according to Malloy. A video of the quadcopter craft shows scale models pulling tight turns pretty low to the ground.

The Hoverbike comes at a time when the Defense Department is investing heavily into unmanned robotic technology. In September, Malloy successfully wrapped up a Kickstarterfor the project, collecting more than $101,000 for it. The company is trying to raise another $1.1 million on its Web site.

This is the future of war. It won't be long before the military adapts these things to become listening platforms, pack carriers or even floating bombs. Of course, as Luke and his friends quickly discovered, all it takes to defeat a human riding on one of these is a clothesline.

Cette publication a été adaptée par Cédric Giboulot pour les lecteurs de Le blog de Centraledrones est une sélection des meilleures articles concernant l'aérien, les sous marins, et les drones terretres sur le web.

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