DETROIT — As a boy, Shuhei Komatsu loved Star Wars movies, especially the lightning-fast land speeders.
So when he grew up, he decided to make one of his own, he said.
“I wanted to make something from the movie real,” Komatsu said. “It’s a land speeder for the Dark Side.”
On Wednesday, he and his AERWINS Technologies company put his vision for a machine that can race above the ground on display at the North American Auto Show in front of Huntington Place in downtown Detroit. It’s the first time the company’s XTURISMO hoverbike has appeared in the U.S., officials said.
“It’s very exciting for us to be here in Detroit,” said Komatsu, AERWINS Technologies’ founder, director, chairman and chief executive officer. “Detroit is the home of the mobility industry.”
Based in Delaware, AERWINS Technologies is an air mobility company that makes drones and unmanned aerial vehicles. Komatsu said his company will make its public offering of stock on the NASDAQ exchange in November.
The hoverbike is being sold in Japan, the CEO also said. Japan doesn’t classify the vehicle as an aircraft and doesn’t require a license to pilot it, he added.
He said he’s hoping the U.S. government classifies its XTURISMO as a non-aircraft.
Komatsu said the company plans to begin selling a smaller version of the XTURISMO hoverbike in the United States in 2023. The estimated price for the current vehicle is $777,000. He said by 2025, he hopes to be able to get the cost down for a smaller, electric hoverbike to about $50,000.
He said he thinks consumers will buy the machine for recreation, and governments will buy it for law enforcement and for inspecting infrastructure. “I hope that in the future, people will use it for every day,” he said.
AERWINS Technologies worked on designing and developing the hoverbike for the last two years, Komatsu said. The machine is a gasoline-electric hybrid with a Kawasaki motor, he said.
It has a myriad of safety features and sensors to keep riders safe, such as collision avoidance and radar.
Sean Bowman, CEO of Aero Auto Sales, an unmanned aerial vehicle dealership in Stuart, Florida, said the XTURISMO hoverbike is exciting.
“This is what we’ve all dreamed of since we were little kids,” Bowman said. “We all wanted flying cars as kids and now as adults we want them to get up and over all of the traffic. Now that the technology has finally caught up to create these amazing vehicles is just awesome.”