Who Doesn't Want Their Own Personal Flying Watercraft?

November 21 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2011   Rating: 7 Hot

Flying planes has been the sort of thing that, to most, seems daunting enough to avoid entirely. Pilot’s license, cost of the plane, upkeep, runway dues, etc. Luckily for us, there’s a company out there which designed a small airplane that’s cheap, easy to handle, and drives like a car. Meet the ICON A5.

Designed for the budding sport-flying enthusiast, the A5 is more affordable than most small aircraft (it will cost an estimated $139,000) and is incredibly easy to operate having taken much of its cockpit design from cars. Its carbon fiber body ensures that it will be lightweight, durable and corrosion resistant to water. The wings also fold back for easy transportation.

What does a product like this mean for me?

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The Awesome Water-Powered Jet Pack

January 31 2009 / by Jeff Hilford / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: 2009   Rating: 5 Hot

Well, it looks like you might get your personal jetpack pretty soon after all.  The advantages of the water-powered variety vs. the rocket fuel type are that it is way less likely to explode or burn you to a crisp and gets much higher gas mileage (not to mention probably takes regular). The downside is that you'll be restricted to traveling over bodies of water.


Seems like this might have some use in water patrol.  Gives you that birdseye view and would be a lot less expensive and more practical than a helicopter over smaller spaces.  Either way, it's pretty cool.

Wonder when we'll see the first English Channel crossing with one of these?

Spyer Prototype May Be the Last Thing You Hear Before You Die

October 29 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2008   Rating: 4 Hot

Jason Dorie, self-proclaimed geek, managed to build himself a quad-rotor flying contraption. Each propeller has three blades allowing for the “motors to respond a little faster” than his previous 2-bladed Spyder. When this thing takes off it sounds like an angry swarm of bees looking to ruin your day. He hopes to be able to make it fly itself as well.

It seems like more and more, regular people sitting in their workshops at home are able to build things some think only the military should be able to do. I guess that’s why contests like the X-Prize have such fierce competition. Makes you wonder what a person in their garage could build in ten years.

via Make Magazine

What will you be working on in your garage in ten years?

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DARPA Not Satisfied With Regular Submarine, Wants a Flying One

November 24 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2015   Rating: 4 Hot

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants to develop a plane capable of flight as well as submerging underwater. “The objectives issued by DARPA are for a vehicle that would have an airborne tactical radius of 1,000 nautical miles, a low-level flight radius of 100 nautical miles (which may leverage surface effects), and a submerged tactical radius of 12 nautical miles.” The hope is that it could carry up to eight people and a 2,000 pound payload (check out their full proposal here).

The problem with developing a submersible aircraft is that air flows around structures differently than water. Developing a body that is efficient through the air as well as water will be incredibly difficult. It may be so daunting that the cost of developing and building working prototypes would render it un-obtainable. The funny thing is, the Navy has wanted something like this for over 60 years. “The U.S. Navy had begun contemplating the merger of aviation and submarine technologies into a single vehicle as early as 1946.” Even the Russians tried to dabble in submersible airplanes (video after the jump).

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The Future of Travel: Clones, Drunken Flying, and Porn

August 03 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 3

With all the technical terms frequently sprinkled about in most futures-related content, it’s a rare day when you come upon a futurist with a totally different and refreshing view on what might be in store for mankind. In this clip, The Hour TV show hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos (try saying in three times fast) interviews famed Canadian science fiction writer Robert Sawyer on his view of the future of travel. On top of his ideas that the elderly may soon retire in space due to safety hazards brought about by gravity (broken hips, arms, legs), I found his view on the future of travel in cities very interesting. Check it out.

The most refreshing thing about this interview is how realistic Robert Sawyer is about the future of travel. For instance, although he admits that cars could be built that could fly, the problem is that if you get into a fender-bender at 300 feet you’re pretty much toast. And as he points out rather comically, “A drunk driver in a flying car is worse than the worst terrorist with the damage he can do.” People already have a hard enough time with two-dimensional driving, imagine adding in a third.

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Cyborg Creatures Already Exist as Bugs, Birds, Rats and Sharks

December 04 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: 2015   Rating: 2

If there's one thing that could creep you out this morning, it's that cyborg creatures (bugs, rats, birds and sharks) already exist.  Researchers have been working heavily into cyborg creatures in order to reduce the cost of developing miniature robots.  "The motivation is simple: why labour for years to build robots that imitate the ways animals move when you can just plug into living creatures and hijack systems already optimised by millions of years of evolution?"  DARPA has heavily funded research into this kind of field, possibly hoping for a bug which can buzz around a room, spying on inhabitants.

Cyborg creatures feature heavily in science fiction movies, and not just for spying.  Often cyborgs are touted as superior to robotic creatures since they combine real intelligence with robotic structure.  It's weird to think of, but we may well be seeing rat-brain powered personal robots before robotic intelligence gets good enough to take over.  Your dog can be taught to fetch the paper and all other sorts of tricks, why not more complicated tasks if given a better body?  Fido, go do the laundry!

Check out the full article regarding cyborg developments at the NewScientist.

Unmanned Helicopter Can Dodge Obstacles on Ground, Rescue Your Ass

November 10 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: Beyond   Rating: 1

A large problem with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles is that they cannot avoid objects such as power lines or bridges. It is for this reason UAVs are not allowed in civilian areas here in the US. That could change with new technology being developed at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. “Engineers at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, have modified a commercial civilian UAV helicopter made by Yamaha to be able to see obstacles it encounters.” The ability to dodge objects is crucial for UAVs expecting to fly low to the ground.

The UAV can run off of maps pre-programmed into its system, or it can generate its own map by using a laser scanner built into it. This allows the prototype itself to fly up to 36kph at an altitude of 5 meters around objects in recent trials.

What does this mean for robotics?

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