Criminals in Dubai already have to contend with the police force’s supercars, but will soon have to keep an eye on the skies as well.
Dubai’s police force have started training on flying motorcycles with a view to introducing the vehicles into service by 2020, CNN reported.
The electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles are made by California-based startup Hoversurf, which came to an agreement with Dubai last year to supply the emirate with the flying vehicles. The police force has now taken delivery of the first production unit of the S3 2019 Hoverbike.
Brigadier Khalid Nasser Alrazooqi, the general director of Dubai police’s artificial intelligence department, said the vehicle will be used in first-responder roles because of its ability to access hard-to-reach locations.
The 253-pound eVTOL can reach a maximum speed of 60 m.p.h. and can fly at altitudes of up to 16 feet. Packing 802 pounds of thrust, it can stay airborne for 10-25 minutes with a pilot or up to 40 minutes in drone mode.
It takes 2.5 hours for the bikes to reach full charge, and each one will set Dubai back around $150,000.
“Currently we have two crews already training [to pilot the hoverbike] and we’re increasing the number,” Alrazooqi told CNN. Hoversurf published videos on its Instagram page showing the training in progress.
Hoversurf chief operating officer Joseph Segura-Conn said the company is standing by to supply as many vehicles as Dubai wants. “They’re going to let us know in the next month or two if they’d like any more … If they would like 30 or 40, we’ll make it happen for them,” he explained.
Segura-Conn noted that ideal candidates for training would already have experience driving a motorcycle or piloting drones.
The craft are currently limited by existing battery technology, which significantly restricts their flight time. Both Dubai police and Hoversurf told CNN they are investigating ways to improve this, for example using new materials like graphene in batteries and improving the propulsion system for the eVTOLs.
Hoversurf is currently considering three countries as it decides where to open its manufacturing site for the S3, one of which is Dubai.
Civilians can get a hold of their own hoverbike if they have the $150,000 required for the privilege. But Segura-Conn told CNN that anyone planning to fly the vehicle must be screened to ensure they are capable. The E3 has already met Federal Aviation Administration guidelines meaning a pilot’s license is not required to fly the vehicle.