There's still no word on the progress of lightsabers, but the US military seems eager to adopt some other tech first showcased in a galaxy far, far away.
According to the BBC, the Department of Defense has struck a deal with US and UK engineering teams to deliver workable 'hoverbikes' for the military. Apparently, such vehicles could be used to transport troops and matériel without the need for helicopters.
Mark Butkiewicz, who works for Survice, a US company co-developing the technology, claimed:
The Department of Defense is interested in Hoverbike technology because it can support multiple roles. It can transport troops over difficult terrain and when it's not used in that purpose it can also be used to transport logistics, supplies, and it can operate in both a manned and unmanned asset.
Meanwhile, in a report with Reuters, Grant Stapleton of UK firm Malloy Aeronautics claims the bikes had several advantages over traditional helicopters:
Previously, Mallory had headed to Kickstarter to fund the continued development of its folding hoverbike design. Although asking for £30,000, it actually made double that by the time the Kickstarter had come to an end - suggesting many civvies out there are also interested in the technology.
OK, so in its current form, the technology doesn't look quite as impressive as the Storm Trooper's Speeder Bikes, while it still seems pretty vulnerable to Ewok attacks. But with DoD funding, it is not outside the realm of possibility that such bikes will be used on future battlefields, although I might not get too excited about the prospect of sticking laser guns on the front.
Science Fiction on the Battlefields of the Future
This isn't the only piece of science-fiction technology the military is interested in developing. One ambitious project concerns building a real-life Iron Man armor for special forces soldiers. Named TALOS (Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit), the project is drawing expertise from many different professions, including Medieval armor experts, Hollywood special effects artists, exo-skeleton robotic manufacturers, and even a Canadian company which is studying how sumo-wrestlers fight.
Currently, the biggest hurdle regarding this type of technology is powering it. According to researchers working on the TALOS project, their 'on paper prototype' would need around 365 pounds of batteries to operate, which is of course, an unacceptably high amount.
However, some military experts have suggested these developments are often simple flights of fancy for defense departments, often because they are not provided enough cash to actually make them viable. Regarding the TALOS system (which received $20 million of funding), one anonymous expert stated:
"To do it right, they need about a billion dollars. Twenty million dollars a year in an R&D budget— you couldn't even develop a pencil on that."