Robot Rides Hoverbike, Nuff Said

The scaled-down quadcopter drone design is proof-of-concept for a full-sized hoverbike that could fly to 9,000 feet at speeds of 115 mph.

Here at Discovery News World HQ, we know that life is increasingly busy in the digital age, and there are a million things you could be doing at any given moment. However, may we modestly propose you take a moment to watch this frickin' robot ride a hoverbike.

Developed by a small operation out of the U.K. called Malloy Aeronautics, the Drone 3 hoverbike is exactly that - a flying motorcycle powered by four turbine fans. But the current vehicle is a 1/3 size scale model - a drone, essentially - with a robot rider to approximate the proportional size and weight of a human rider. The drone is controlled via remote, similar to other UAV designs.

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The Drone 3 is a proof-of-concept demonstration of a more ambitious plan. In an interesting strategy, the 1/3-size drone is being sold via Kickstarter in hopes of funding development of a full-size quadcopter hoverbike, designed for human riders. Think Return of the Jedi, forest moon of Endor, this sort of thing.

Designers say the quadcopter approach, which uses four different overlapping fans, offers improved stability, maneuverability and payload capacity than competing two-fan hoverbike designs. In fact, the Malloy hoverbike is intended to share the skies with helicopters, planes and other aircraft.

"This hoverbike is a helicopter - it takes off like a helicopter, flies and lands like a helicopter," says Malloy Aeronautics' Grant Stapleton in the demonstration video. "It's designed to fly to an altitude of over 9,000 feet and do so at over 100 knots [115 mph]."

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The company is currently finishing up the full-size prototype, with flight tests expected in a few months.

Meanwhile, you can still get on board at the Kickstarter campaign, running through Aug. 31. For a pledge of just under $1,000 USD, you can get a bare-bones Drone 3 kit. For larger pledges, the team will throw in the robotic pilot (named Buster, in case you're curious), plus a mounted Go Pro camera and dedicated control unit.

via: Popular Science

Credit: Malloy Aeronautics

The Tumblr blog

Signs From the Near Future

features just that, imaginary signs and warnings that we might come across eventually. The image blog is the brainchild of Fernando Barbella, an artist and creative director in Barcelona.

Barbella creates the images by taking stock photos and manipulating the images in Photoshop. "I look for casual and amateur images on forums and online boards, then I work on putting together the whole thing, trying to integrate the signs in ordinary and very usual places where they would be relevant," Barbella says.

How does Barbella come up with ideas? Any way he can: "Since I'm doing this during my free time, I usually came up with the idea in any give moment of the day, mostly while commuting by train, or taking my dogs for a walk at night."

Barbella says the inspiration for the project came when he was trying to devise a graphical header for another project.

"The idea came from trying to figure out how these upcoming technologies would interact with us," Barbella says. "But at the same time not showing these technologies at all, since we’ve already seen many pictures of those technologies."

Once inspiration for a new image strikes, Barbella immediately starts picturing the context. "I write it down on my mobile or on paper and I try to figure out the best and more natural way to feature it."

Subtlety is a key part of the design, Barbella says. The idea is not to trumpet the oddness of the signs, but rather to emphasize their "normalness" by placing them in very ordinary settings. "We're all very acquainted with signage," he says. "Of course there are some few touches of subtle humor, since I really enjoy irony and black humor a lot."

Barbella says he hopes the project inspires people to think about their relationship to technology. "The goal of the project is to expose a point of view, and to make the visitors think about how far -- and how fast -- we want to go in this kind of technological race," Barbella says. "Although I'm an innovation fan, I'm not an expert or a man of science, and I think there are huge chances to make some mistakes in terms of the final result."

Barbella says he plans to keep updating the image blog regularly, and perhaps take the project in new directions. "It would be nice to blur the line between the online and offline worlds, he says. "Perhaps a small book or a temporary expo in some physical space, or even producing those signs for real and start doing some urban interventions." Follow his

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