Boeing to reveal mysterious space plane of the future

December 21, 2017 by  
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Boeing is set to release a new plane that the company claims to be “the future of air power.” In a video posted on Twitter, Boeing, one of the largest aircraft manufacturers in the world, offered a glimpse of its new creation, which seemed to bear some resemblance to the Batmobile. The plane is being developed by Phantom Works, the company’s advanced design division, and is being kept tightly under wraps until its to-be-announced reveal date. However, rumor has it that the new aircraft may be suited for space travel. This would follow Boeing’s X-37B plane, first built for the United States military, which is capable of traveling outside of Earth’s atmosphere . Boeing was recently granted another contract from the Pentagon to develop the XS-1 space plane, which would provide “short-notice, low-cost access to space”, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency ( DARPA ). It is possible that this new mystery plane has nothing to do with space travel , with some speculating that it could be a new electric aircraft designed to take-off and land vertically. Related: Swiss pilot plans to fly solar airplane to the edge of space The aviation giant recently acquired Aurora Flight Sciences, which last year won a DARPA contract to build the XV-24A LightningStrike VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) plane. When released, it will include new innovative features, such as “hybrid-electric propulsion ducted fans” and an “innovative synchronous electric-drive system,” according to Aurora . The plane also boasts increased hovering efficiency of 70 percent and is able to carry at least 5,000 pounds. Whatever this mystery plane is, news of it comes on an historic week for Boeing, during which the last 747 to ever fly on an American airline will make its final landing in Detroit . Via the Telegraph Images via Boeing and DARPA

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Gorgeous copper-clad home celebrates craft in the Pacific Northwest

December 21, 2017 by  
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Boasting lakeside views and a strong attention to craftsmanship, the Brook Bay Residence is a gorgeous luxury home nestled on Washington’s Mercer Island. Architect Rick Sundberg , currently Principal at Sundberg Kennedy Ly-Au Young (SKL) Architects, designed this two-story residence that embraces the outdoors yet preserves client privacy. Copper and dark-stained cedar wrap around the handsome home that’s filled with high-end materials and the clients’ extensive art collection. Located across Lake Washington from Seattle , the 4,400-square-foot Brook Bay Residence features an L-shaped design with a cantilevered wing to take advantage of lake views. Dark-stained cedar wraps around the cantilevered wing, which houses the master suite, while copper clads the public areas. Natural light floods the cool and contemporary interior featuring wood casework and a wide array of custom designs by local craftspeople that include entry doors with antique Chinese wood panels, blackened steel staircase, a glass and metal chandelier, interior copper panels, and a dining table of wood, steel, and concrete. Related: Copper-clad chapel is a beacon of unity in one of Helsinki’s most multicultural districts In contrast to the public area’s blackened concrete floors and granite—which provide a sleek backdrop to the client’s extensive Pacific Northwest art collection—the private spaces are lined with lighter-toned materials. Inviting timber wraps around the master bedroom and the office, while the spa-like bathroom is surrounded with beautiful limestone and eucalyptus cabinetry. “It’s about thinking where you are during the course of the day and how we can make you feel more calm or comfortable,” said Sundberg. + Sundberg Kennedy Ly-Au Young Architects Images by Ben Benschneider

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Clever switches use your OCD tendencies to save electricity

December 21, 2017 by  
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Do you have a habit of forgetting to turn off the lights? Thai designer Pakaporn Teadtulkitikul has a smart solution for those of us with obsessive-compulsive tendencies. Meet the OCD Switch, a clever light switch that takes advantage of our preference for pattern and symmetry to encourage users to turn the lights off and save electricity . When turned on, the switch is visually misaligned with its background, only to be set back in its proper place once turned off. Winner of a 2017 Red Dot Design concept Award , the OCD Switch is a simple and beautiful solution to a common problem. Pakaporn looked to basic human psychology to develop her concept and explored basic shapes and patterns familiar to the human brain for the design. Her final concept shows a white circular light switch with a ribbed pattern that is disrupted when turned on. Related: Obsession with material possessions makes you anxious and depressed The Red Dot design statement explains: “Observations about human behaviour and the subconscious tells us that human beings are naturally attracted to order, pattern and symmetry ; they feel uncomfortable when those are interrupted or when things seem off-balance. That is how we can trick the brain and manipulate the user’s routine behaviour to trigger a response.” + OCD Switch Via Yanko Design

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Clever switches use your OCD tendencies to save electricity

New Passenger Drone can fly you to work hands-free with zero-emissions

September 28, 2017 by  
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Get ready to commute in style. For the past three years, Passenger Drone has been developing a zero-emissions , easy-to-use passenger drone that has the potential to eliminate stressful commutes. With 16 electric engines, the drone can travel up to 80 km/h while barely making a noise. Not only will the Passenger Drone limit air and noise pollution , it could reduce stress levels and improve the general health of commuters around the world. Daily commutes to the office can be quite burdensome to the average worker. In the United States, the average travel time to work is 25.4 minutes. Most of that time is spent sitting in traffic or in public transportation — environments that can produce stress even before the workday has begun. Passenger Drone seeks to improve the overall health of the populace and reduce pollution by improving daily commutes. The newly-unveiled electric aircraft is slightly larger than a car and allows commuters to select their destination, then sit back and relax. The quick-flying drone can travel up to 80km/h, and it features a lightweight body made of carbon fiber composites. The Passenger Drone’s 16 electric engines offer some distinct advantages – according to the company, the “engine system sheds the complexity of most quad-copters providing enhanced safety, performance, greater payload and range, and less noise than anything else available on the marketplace.” Related: Drones are planting an entire forest from the sky Passenger Drone envisions the aircraft becoming the “go-to” form of daily transportation for hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of commuters in the future. Said the company, “Air travel has historically been seen as an expensive proposition, due in great part to the small volume of production seen in today’s aerospace industry. Mass production of the Passenger Drone could potentially revolutionize traditional notions of transport .” + Passenger Drone Images via Passenger Drone

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New Passenger Drone can fly you to work hands-free with zero-emissions

Lilium’s all-electric flying taxi could travel from Manhattan to JFK in 5 minutes

September 6, 2017 by  
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A startup from Germany has secured $90 million to build the all-electric flying taxi of the future. Albeit still under development, Lilium’s five-seater commercial jet could be ready for take off as soon as 2019, and, according to a company statement, it could get users from Manhattan to JFK airport in just five minutes. The Verge reports that the $90 million will be used to build the company’s five-seat commercial Lilium Jet, as well as grow its team by at least 70 people. The envisioned Lilium Jet would be able to stay in the air for approximately one hour on a single charge and travel at speeds exceeding 180 mph. At that pace, the jet could travel from London to Paris in an hour. Integrated technology would allow passengers to order an air-taxi to a nearby landing pad. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.10”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Lilium Jet's all-electric flying car Watch this all-electric ‘flying car’ take its first test flight. Posted by The Verge on Thursday, April 20, 2017 Lilium has now raised more than $100 million. Investors in the latest funding round include Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström’s Atomico, Tencent, Twitter co-founder Ev Williams’ Obvious Ventures, and a private banking group. CEO and co-founder of Lilium , Daniel Wiegland said, “This is the next stage in our rapid evolution from an idea to the production of a commercially successful aircraft that will revolutionize the way we travel in and around the world’s cities.” Related: Lilium is the world’s first personal aircraft designed for vertical takeoff and landing In a study conducted by Swiss bank UBS , more than half of the 8,000 people surveyed were unwilling to travel in a pilotless vehicle — despite the mode of technology being less expensive than conventional forms.  Perhaps as self-driving cars become more mainstream and fatalities reduce as a result, the concept of traveling in a driver-less flying taxi will become easier to accept. In the meantime, this vessel will be crewed. We can’t wait to see what happens net. + Lilium Via The Verge Images via Lilium

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Lilium’s all-electric flying taxi could travel from Manhattan to JFK in 5 minutes

Wright Electric unveils revolutionary plan for 150-seat electric passenger plane

March 22, 2017 by  
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The electric car market just keeps growing, but electric planes aren’t yet a common sight. Wright Electric plans to change that with a 150-seat commercial passenger airplane powered by batteries . They presented their idea in Silicon Valley at renowned startup accelerator Y Combinator’s Demo Day yesterday – can they usher in a new era of cleaner flight? After quietly running in stealth mode, Wright Electric unveiled their business idea to a group of investors in Mountain View, California. Their plan? To disrupt the 737 market with an environmentally friendly alternative. Even though the company is just a year old, they’re well on their way to success: they hired a team NASA funded in the past to explore electric planes, and have partnered with EasyJet , a low-cost British airline, to help propel their vision. It appears Wright Electric captured the attention of the Y Combinator team; CEO Michael Seibel said, “This is one of the best hard tech teams I’ve seen.” Related: Meet Maxwell, NASA’s zero-emission 14-motor electric airplane Wright Electric’s battery-powered planes are targeted for short-haul trips, or flights with a duration of less than 300 miles: New York to Boston or London to Paris. 30 percent of existing flights are currently short-haul. How the planes are precisely powered will depend on how far battery technology advances; Wright Electric’s planes could either be all-electric or run on a hybrid system much like a Chevy Volt . There’s already interest for such airplanes: earlier in March in a blog post the company said a “high-net-worth individual wants our electric 150-seater as his fifth private jet.” Last year Airbus and Boeing sold 737-style 967 planes for around $90 million apiece, so Wright Electric has the potential to be profitable once their planes are ready. That date could still be several years away, but the company has still set an ambitious goal: make every short-haul flight electric in just two decades. Via TechCrunch Images via Wikimedia Commons and Pixabay

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Wright Electric unveils revolutionary plan for 150-seat electric passenger plane

MIT and NASA unveil "morphing" airplane wing that could revolutionize aviation

November 7, 2016 by  
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NASA and MIT just unveiled a new “morphing” aircraft wing that could revolutionize aviation . The flexible wing designed by NASA’s MADCAT team could be used to create super-efficient plans that use much less fuel. An Airbus aviation expert uninvolved with the research said the approach pioneered by MADCAT ” is a philosophical revolution, opening the gate to disruptive innovation .” Wing shape greatly impacts how efficiently an aircraft can operate, and according to NASA , rigid wings aren’t always the most efficient. They describe the search for a better wing as the quest for the holy grail. MADCAT, comprised of researchers and students from MIT ; University of California, Davis; University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Santa Cruz; Cornell University; and NASA may have found that long-awaited green wing. Related: Meet Maxwell, NASA’s zero-emission 14-motor electric airplane According to MIT, the wing is made of “a system of tiny, lightweight subunits” that robots could assemble. The subunits are covered by overlapping parts reminiscent of scales or feathers. The wing components are made from advanced carbon fiber composite materials. Computers and motors can help change the shape of the wing for better efficiency even while an aircraft is flying. The new wings could also be manufactured using much simpler and more streamlined processes. NASA is dedicated to green aviation “by dramatically reducing its environmental impact; improving efficiency, while maintaining safety in more crowded skies; and paving the way for revolutionary aircraft shapes and propulsion,” according to a statement on the morphing wings. The MADCAT team is still working on the design of the groundbreaking wing, but they’ve already experimented with the concept at a Modesto, California test airfield. The journal Soft Robotics published the innovative work earlier this year. + MIT News + NASA Images via Kenneth Cheung/NASA

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Uber is working on flying electric cars to disrupt transportation again

October 28, 2016 by  
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Self-driving cars just became so passé. Uber is now working on flying cars , according to a 98-page white paper on their futuristic project Uber Elevate. They describe the service as ” on-demand aviation ” and it focus on Vertical Take-off and Landing ( VTOL ) aircraft. Uber believes that Uber Elevate will free up traffic and shorten commutes. Users could complete the two hour commute from the Marina District of San Francisco to San Jose with a snappy 15 minute flight. Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden wrote in a Medium post, “Just as skyscrapers allowed cities to use limited land more efficiently, urban air transportation will use three-dimensional airspace to alleviate transportation congestion on the ground.” Related: AeroMobil unveils futuristic flying car, plans to launch by 2017 Uber hopes to design a sustainable flying car powered by electricity. They also imagine pilots will operate the vehicles at first, but ultimately the VTOLs could glide through the skies autonomously. Flying is typically seen as a costly mode of travel, but Uber thinks VTOLs could offer an affordable alternative. In the Medium post Holden said air travel is so expensive now because of “low production volume manufacturing.” VTOLs could be expensive initially, but over time “high production volume manufacturing” will lower costs. VTOLs could even utilize infrastructure already in place, like helipads. Parking garage roofs or land around highway interchanges could also act as “vertiports,” or places where several VTOLs can land, take off, and charge. Will there be lanes in the sky as on the ground? Uber doesn’t seem to think so. Holden says one of the benefits of VTOLs is they “do not need to follow fixed routes.” If the flying cars can pursue several different paths, this could limit potential air travel congestion. Via The Verge Images via Uber and Joby Aviation Facebook

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World’s first piloted solar-powered helicopter lifts off in Maryland

September 20, 2016 by  
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University of Maryland students continue to soar with alternatively-powered aircraft . Their solar-powered helicopter, Solar Gamera, lifted off the ground earlier this month, marking the first flight of a piloted, solar-powered helicopter. The Solar Gamera lifted over a foot off the earth and flew for nine seconds. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyBDrmyRTqs Piloted by materials science major Michelle Mahon, the 100-square-foot Solar Gamera flew twice. The students created the solar panels themselves, according to Mahon, and the craft flies via electronic controls. While nine seconds may not seem like a very long time, doctorate student William Staruk, a member of the Solar Gamera team, said it’s “just a matter of drift” before the Solar Gamera can fly for longer periods of time. Related: Gamera II Helicopter Breaks World Altitude Record for Human-Powered Aircraft! Team Gamera has a storied history, beginning with human-powered flight. Back in 2011 the students who were then working on the Gamera project broke records with the longest human-powered flight in the United States and the longest human-powered flight by a woman in the world. Gamera II achieved the highest altitude reached by a human-powered helicopter ever to that date. In 2014, students rebranded the team as the Solar Gamera, adding solar power to the aircraft’s design. Staruk said in the video, “This project has come a long way in the past six of seven years from human power to solar power. So we are breaking barriers of all sorts of aviation with this one airframe.” Staruk was also a member of the human-powered helicopter team. The Solar Gamera likely won’t fly long distances; instead the project is intended to galvanize students and give them hands-on engineering experience. According to Solar Gamera faculty advisor Inderjit Chopra, “This is about inspiring and educating students, that’s our product here. No one thought that solar energy could lift a person [via helicopter].” + University of Maryland Images courtesy of the University of Maryland

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World’s first piloted solar-powered helicopter lifts off in Maryland

Clip-Air to test modular capsule-based aircraft with a small-scale drone

July 7, 2016 by  
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Back in 2013, we reported on a crazy airplane that could carry passengers and cargo in modular, detachable capsules . The Clip-Air plane was conceived by Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne , and engineers have spent several years developing the design – now the company is gearing up to build a small-scale Clip-Air prototype drone as a test vehicle. The two-part Clip-Air craft is composed of the flying component (the airframe, cockpit, and engines) and the capsules, which are detachable pods that can be configured to carry passengers or cargo loads. The prototype will measure just 10 meters long, but it will help engineers test theories about the performance potential of the pod-like aircraft . Clip-Air’s concept sports an airframe based on a flying-wing design that sits high above the ground, leaving adequate clearance for up to three capsules to attach. Modular aircraft such as this would be incredibly versatile, and a single plane could be capable of carrying out multiple functions. For instance, a passenger module could be attached to an airframe and carry people from Point A to Point B. Then, additional cargo modules already full of goods could be attached for the return trip, or to fly on to Point C. Related: Clip-Air: Modular transportation capsules carry passengers by land, sea, and air Another potential bonus to Clip-Air’s modular approach to transportation is the impact it could have on human travel. Because the modules can be carried by a wide variety of vehicles, including trains and trucks, and easily attached and detached from the airframe, it’s possible that passengers could board a Clip-Air capsule in one city and be carried by railway to another, attached to an airframe, and flown to their final destination, all without having to leave the cabin. Imagine that. Via CNN Images via Federal Polytechnic Institute

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Clip-Air to test modular capsule-based aircraft with a small-scale drone

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