Feeds

Flying car more economical than SUV

All the fun from the Future Fair

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

NextFest Inventor Paul Moller has pulled off an astonishing achievement. He's found a parking spot in San Francisco. And we can be grateful for this, because his Flying Car is undoubtedly the draw at the technology exhibition NextFest (here until Sunday, at Fort Mason).

It's just a prototype, but judging by the queues of eager children - of all ages - that clustered around his M400 SkyCar, he has the hit of the show. Moller has spent $200 million and many years of his life on this quixotic venture. We'll share the latest specifications with you.

The M400 needs 35 clear feet to take off but thanks to its 770 hp engine can whiz to 365 mph - cruise control kicks in at 326 mph - and climb at 6,400 feet per minute. You may hear it before you see it: it emits a rather noisy 65 dba at 500 feet. Interestingly, with a fuel consumption of 20 miles to the gallon on the road, it's rather more economical than a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) and looks positively eco-friendly compared to a Hummer.

Moller said that today's economics give each M400 a theoretical price tag of around half a million dollars, but in volume production it could drop to $300,000 and in really large volumes to below $50,000. At which point, uh, look out!

SkyCar
Mirror... signal ... manoeuver

Fans of dangerous vehicles may also want to see the EZ-Rocket that graces the outside arena, especially for the very frank safety literature that accompanies it (reproduced here). The EZ-Rocket is a home-made plane that crosses a rocket with a glider - the idea being to get up very fast indeed using an isopropyl alcohol and liquid oxygen rocket. Typical burn-out is within two minutes.

"The pilot can dump the LOX [liquid oxygen] through a manual valve into the atmosphere," we learned. "Venting oxygen behind a 200 MPH glider is not hazardous. We've done this during a safe-abort flight." After drinks and light refreshments had been stowed away, we hope.

Elsewhere at NextFest, children danced on stage with a creepy robot from Honda called Asimo. Asimo looks harmless, has a very lifelike gait but obviously, only a limited range of movements and not very much to say for himself. It's a bit like arguing with a weblogger.

GM showed off a hybrid car, NASA showed off subvocal communications (grinding your teeth will do, thanks to a tiny sensor and the magic of wireless), and a DARPA-funded company showed off their iSwarms. DARPA is obsessed with swarms, because the military - mirroring Japan's long and fruitless obsession with AI - pays them lots of money in the belief that it will give them a competitive advantage. The military wants future wars to be fit for TV, and hopes robots can fight them. Some scientists including Bill Joy fear that nanoscale swarms will eventually swamp humanity but there's a much more immediate problem with the technology: the critters jump into Kevin Kelly's beard, and refuse to come out.

More seriously, Chris "teleportation" Anderson and his team at Wired deserve praise for curating a splendid exhibition. It deserves to be a great success. It runs until Sunday and tickets are $15 a head or $40 for a family ticket. All beside one of the most beautiful stretches of waterfront in the world.

As your reporter departed, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom was praising risk-taking to great cheers from school-children, and Phil Bronstein, editor of the San Francisco Chronicle promised the kids that they could have tomorrow off. The children looked confused. The Schools Superintendent whispered in his ear that since it was Friday, they'd have tomorrow off anyway. Sometimes the future just rolls around so quickly... ®

Related link

NextFest

Related stories

El Reg's Science Channel
Robot wars: One man's story of promotional monks and mechanical friendships
DARPA's Grand Challenge proves to be too grand
DARPA creating a race of robo-grunts
Could Segways replace soldiers as hired killers?
Invisible GIs to heal selves, leap tall building with nanotech
The self-healing, self-hopping landmine
Robogrunt: the US military's plans for robot armies

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
What's that STINK? Rosetta probe shoves nose under comet's tail
Rotten eggs, horse dung and almonds – yuck
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Kip Thorne explains how he created the black hole for Interstellar
Movie special effects project spawns academic papers on gravitational lensing
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.