Zaxon

The Concept

The Zaxon is a jet-powered flying motorbike designed for military application. It would be capable of flying at over 150 mph at low altitude and would come equipped with four Spike missiles.

The Background

When Franky Zapata unveiled his Flyboard to the public in early April, it was clear that a military version would soon follow. I imagine a lot of military forces have seen it and are thinking about how to exploit his invention. The Zaxon likewise is a flying bike concept that could be developed by the military and the IP, and the technology generated for it could later be used in a civilian motosport version. The reason is simple: the development and CAPEX investment needed to develop and manufacture such a machine will be sizeable and out of the range of a typical start-up.

How It Works

The Zaxon would be the size of a standard touring motorcycle. It could carry only one passenger for safety and fuel consumption reasons. The vehicle would have three to four jet engines: two larger ones in the front and two smaller ones in the back. The jets could tilt slightly for liftoff, landing, or full-speed flying. A large fuel tank would be located inside the bike since the space that the engine typically takes up would be free.

Two jet nozzles would help with lateral stability, making small adjustments when necessary. An onboard flying system would help stabilize the vehicle automatically, although the pilot would need to be trained to properly feel the bike and learn how to react to its movements.

The Zaxon would have landing skids similar in shape to a helicopter’s. This way, the vehicle could land at a very low speed and skid a little when touching down. A parachute could be built into each unit to be used when the vehicle is flying over 1000 feet. There would also be infrared lights to light up landing areas in pitch darkness. Small wings could also be added to the side of the Zaxon to create more lift when it’s flying.

The Zaxon’s name was inspired by Sega’s arcade game released in 1982. (See Zaxxon) This game was one of my favourites because it simulated three dimensions and included many innovative features for videogames in addition to its really cool design.

What’s It Used For?

The Zaxon could be used as tactical vehicle to rapidly deploy elite forces on the ground to a target less than 100 clicks away. It could probably be designed to be dropped from a Lockheed Martin C-5 Galaxy, where it would partially freefall, glide and start its engine duing the final approach. The development cost for such a vehicle is pretty high (probably $40 MM US before tooling), hence an agency closer to military divisions like DARPA seems like the most likely initial investors for such a project.

The Designer

The Zaxon concept was developed in collaboration with Ashish Thulkar, an Industrial Designer from Bangalore, India. Ashish graduated with a master’s degree in design from the Indian Institute of Science in 2014. He currently works as a freelance vehicle designer at the Indian Institute of Science. He also created the Drone Tower concept and the Tridika people mover.

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