Subaru Corporation has filed for a U.S. patent for a “land-and-air vehicle”—a tilt-rotor/motorcycle. And the application wasn’t dated April 1.
Drawings show a heavily faired gas engine-powered motorcycle with conventional throttle, clutch and front-brake controls on its handlebars. It also shows a piggyback airframe component with a pair of wings folded back against the side of the fuselage, each with a propeller driven by five electric motors. The motorcycle engine can be run during flight to charge the battery for the electric motors. As with the V-22 Osprey, the wings and propellers remain vertical for takeoff and landing, but both tilt forward to horizontal for cruise. The handlebar has a secondary throttle lever at the end of the right grip to control propeller speed. The empennage appears to be that of a conventional airplane, but with a vertically oriented rotor for takeoff and landing in rotorcraft configuration.
The land-and-air vehicle will have ECU 101 sensors in the flight mode that enable manual, assisted or fully automated flight. For manual control, the application says the ECU 101-driven control system “may be configured to … behave similarly … during ground traveling and during flight.”
The inventors are listed as Daisuke Hirabayashi, Yoshiyuki Matsumoto and Takumi Ishikawa. The application was filed in May last year, but not published until early March by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office. No word yet on any plans to market the Subaru project.