Category: Innovations

The Internet Can’t Decide If This Hoverbike Belongs In Star Wars Or Final Destination

It might not jam a comlink or come with a blaster cannon, but you can still live out your fantasies of cruising through the forest on a 74-Z speeder bike thanks to Russian start-up, Hoversurf.

Star Wars fans collectively experienced spasms of joy when a video featuring the first commercially manned hoverbike hit YouTube in mid-February. Since then, the video has garnered over a million views. The Scorpion-3 hoverbike is equipped with four drone propellers, powerful enough to blast both quadcopter and pilot to an altitude of 33 feet.

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This isn’t the first hoverbike to survive a maiden voyage with a human pilot. British hobbyist, Colin Furze, is still the first man to take to the skies on a hoverbike, which is even more remarkable considering he built said bike in his garage. A joy to behold, it was also a one-off and not geared towards the mass market.

Enter Hoversurf with the Scorpion-3, the first hoverbike available for sale — although it’ll set you back a staggering $150,000.

This jumbo-sized quadcopter is built for the adrenaline junkie, although thrill seekers may be disappointed to discover that the in-built safety system automatically regulates the height and speed of your ride.

Half-drone, half-motorbike, the Scorpion-3 can carry up to 266 pounds and reach speeds of 33 mph. With a maximum airtime of 27 minutes, it’s not going to take you on a cross-country tour, but it’s one hell of a way to make an entrance.

Not everybody is ready to throw their regular bike into the trash compactor just yet. “So this is what a human juicer looks like,” mused one user on Twitter, presumably after noticing the lack of propeller guards separating the human passenger from the rather deadly-looking propellers.

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Both The Verge and Mashable were having none of it.

“World’s first hoverbike looks cool as hell, but will probably kill you” announced the Verge. Mashable was more succinct: “Whatever you do, don’t fall off.”

Although Hoversurf may need to integrate more safety features before everyone is a convert, the Scorpion-3 is just one of many exciting new hovercraft prototypes that have cropped up recently.

JTARV

As the US military is wont to do, they’re already light-years ahead when it comes to hoverbike technology. The Army Research Laboratory unveiled a flying quadcopter in early January, known as a joint tactical aerial resupply vehicle, or JTARV for short.

The JTARV is longer, sleeker, and admittedly more of an aerial BAMF than any other hovercraft on the market. But Star Wars wasn’t so much the inspiration for the JTARV as…Amazon Prime?

Tim Vong, associate chief of ARL’s Protection Division likened the JTARV to “Amazon on the battlefield.”

“Anywhere on the battlefield, Soldiers can potentially get resupplied in less than 30 minutes,” he said.

The JTARV prototype is currently electric, but researchers are already exploring utilizing a hybrid propulsion system which would spearhead a faster and more powerful hoverbike, capable of carrying 800 pounds and travelling up to 125 miles.

“We’re also looking to integrate advanced intelligent navigation and mission planning. We’re looking to end up with a modular, stable platform that can be used for even more dynamic and challenging missions.” Vong told visitors from the Department of Defense.

EHang 184

So when can we expect to see a fleet of drones travelling across the skies? If you live in Dubai, it could be as soon as July.

The EHang 184 will be the world’s first autonomous air vehicle (AAV) used as an air taxi. Come July, Dubai expects to have its first fleet of AAV taxis taking flight across the city, and alleviating some of the city’s traffic woes in the process.

Much like calling for an Uber, you’ll use an app to request this egg-shaped quadcopter, which can accommodate one passenger and a small suitcase weighing up to 220 pounds. After you’ve strapped yourself in, you’ll simply enter your destination on a touch screen display and the EHang will self-pilot through the skies to your destination. It can stay in the air for 30 minutes and has a range of 31 miles.

If the concept of a self-driving car makes you wince, you’re unlikely to feel comforted by the idea of combining self-driving technology with heights. But EHang assures potential passengers that the aircraft is totally safe. According to their website, if the power system starts behaving abnormally, the EHang can still operate a normal flight plan. If anything malfunctions, the AAV will automatically land in the nearest available area.

BMW Lego Bike

Hoversurf put the first pilot on a hoverbike, but BMW and Lego are hot on their heels with their own hoverbike, that looks much safer than the Scorpion-3. Designed by students using Lego,

The concept impressed BMW enough to build a full-sized replica. Sadly, it’s still a concept, although from the video below, it looks like the slickest model of the lot.

When you look at emerging hoverbike technology, do you see:

  1. Your other Star Wars fantasy coming true
  2. A grim, painful way to die
  3. All of the above

Let us know in the comments! And if you liked this post, be sure to check out the time a water ski company and YouTube celebrity recreated the speeder-bike scene on a lake.

Header Image Courtesy of Hoversurf

Indian 10th grader builds landmine-detecting drone, bags Rs. 50m in funding

landmine detecting drone Harshwardhan Zala

At 14 years of age, most students don’t even think about national security. Harshwardhan Zala however is different. The 10th grader from Sarvoday Vidhyamandir in Bapunagar, Gujarat, India has developed prototype of a landmine-detecting drone for war areas. Even better, the young innovator has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Rs. 5 crore with the Gujarat state government. The deal, in order to facilitate development of drones for detecting landmines in war zones, has been signed with the Department of Science and Technology in Gujarat. Read More…

Heartbeat-powered, Swiss watch-style device will power pacemakers of tomorrow

 

watch like pacemaker battery

On the tune of automatic watches that harvest power from movement of the wrist, researchers have developed a wristwatch-style device, which will power pacemakers by drawing power from the heart itself. The smartwatch-style device is created by two researchers – Andreas Haeberlin and Adrian Zurbuchen from the University of Bern and Michigan respectively. Read More…

Two Indian chemists invent groundbreaking CO2 capture and utilisation method

Tuticorin chemical plant

Tuticorin Alkali Chemical plant in Indian State of Tamil Nadu has become world’s first to feature a new method to capture carbon emission and convert it into baking soda and other useful compounds. Two Indian chemists from Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur invented a chemical that can strip the CO2 to facilitate filtering and conversion into useful compounds including those used in glass manufacturing, sweeteners, detergents and paper products. While the carbon capture concept isn’t new and is being explored by scientists around the globe, the Indian method is practical, affordable at small-scale industrial models, and is brings down overall operational cost as well. Read More…

MIT researchers develop advanced, self-learning algorithm to revolutionize carpooling

NYC Carpooling algorithm

After Uber and Lyft explored the potential of carpooling using mobile data, researchers have also started to prepare themselves technically to adapt to this trend. Carpooling, if used efficiently with the help of huge amount of data extracted from millions of taxi rides and maps of road network, can reduce the traffic congestion, save fuel and time, and reduce vehicular pollution along with road accidents in the New York city, claims the researchers at the MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). Read More…

Indian researchers working on stealth underwater vessel with penguin-inspired fins

IIT-Mandi Stealth Ships
Indian Institute of Technology- Madras claims to have developed bio-inspired propulsion system that will make water and areal vessels faster, more flexible, and undetectable. Researchers suggest development of fin-like blades that are inspired from penguins, turtles and fish. These fins are considered to be super-efficient propellers as well as rudders that rotate and move like penguins. Read More…

Scientists develop heat-activated ‘bionic penile implant’ to treat erectile dysfunction

bionic-penis (1)
A new prosthesis is promising relief to patients of erectile dysfunction with their heat-activated penile implant. The US researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison claim to have completed successful testing of the implant. The team believes that it can offer betterment in quality of life to 50 percent of men between 40-70 years age group who suffer erectile dysfunction at one or other stage of their lives. Read More…

Kissenger iPhone accessory simulates a kiss in real time

Kissenger iPhone accessory

Smartphones have really changed the way in which you interact with your friends, family and lover. It has made possible on the go video calling capabilities over the internet, so that you never feel alone, especially in a long distance relationship. But there comes a time when you long for physical intimacy. Perhaps, you desperately need Kissenger, a kissing messenger that simulates the caress of a real kiss.
Read More…

Newly developed bacteria-powered battery to make disposable, standalone papertronics a reality

Bacteri-powered paper battery
Self-powered papertronics development is in infancy because the energy sources put a limit on it. To deal with it, paper-batteries are being extensively researched to explore full potential of the technology. In a similar attempt, researchers at the Binghamton University, State University of New York, has developed a paper battery that is powered by bacteria by harnessing its cellular respiration as energy.
Read More…

Microsoft’s leading machine learning platform Cortana Intelligence Suite to help fight blindness

Microsoft to help fight blindness

The prestigious L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) in India has been working with global academic, medical, and technology institutes to enhance the quality of eye-care and to make it accessible to more people across the world. Now, Microsoft has announced collaboration with the LVPEI with the launch of Microsoft Intelligent Network for Eyecare (MINE). So, it has now become mission-driven global consortium of experts from every corner of the world. It matters a lot for estimated 285 million people suffering from blindness or eye-related diseases worldwide. Out this total sum, 55 million are in India only. By 2020, number of children with blindness is estimated to reach 2 million. Read More…