The Future is Here: The Electric Hover-Bike!

flyingbikeInventors Chris Malloy and Mark DeRoche turned quite a few heads back in 2012 when they displayed their hoverbike prototypes to the world. But, you know how it is with cool, new ideas. Its only a matter of time before  it catches on and others are coming up with their own versions of it. And that’s exactly what happened at Prague convention center this week, where a design firm unveiled their own concept of the hoverbike.

The design firms goes by the name of Design Your Dreams Flying Bike, an amalgamation of three Czech engineering firms who joined together to fulfill a shared childhood dream. Last June, the firm shared their design specs for the electric bike which would be capable of vertical takeoff and hover-flight. And less than a year later, their efforts have resulted in something functional, and very, very cool!

flyingbike_conceptGranted, the prototype isn’t quite as sleek and sophisticated as the original drawings themselves. But the project is still in the early phases, and already it has shown that the concept works. Using six horizontally mounted propellers, the 220-pound electric bike was able to lift itself into the air while an engineer on the ground controlled it with a handheld remote.

According to Milan Duchek of Design Your Dreams, the prototype will fly remotely with a dummy on the seat for now, but a version that can be piloted by a human will be ready this fall. In addition, the design team said that the final product should be as easy to maneuver as a regular bicycle, but will also have the ability to fly for between three and five minutes, using solely electric power. It will include “foolproof” stability control for takeoff and landing, and a fly-by-wire system that isn’t susceptible to outside interference.

speeder_bike1 Though the prototype bike looks like a homemade version of something out of Star Wars, the designers told the press that their inspiration came from two Czech works of science fiction: a series of books by Jaroslav Foglar about a boy with a flying bicycle, and a 1966 Karel Zeman film based on a Jules Verne novel.

Bad news though: even when the flying bike is complete, it won’t be available for commercial use. According to the engineers who built it, the purpose of the project was to bring a flying bike to fruition to see if the technology would work. Or as DYD engineer Ales Kobylik said:

Our main motivation in working on the project was neither profit nor commercial interest, but the fulfillment of our boyish dreams.

Hard to argue with that kind of logic. But for those who absolutely must own one, early indications put the cost of the prototype in the low five-figures – say, anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000. Make the team an offer, we’ll see what they have to say 😉 In the meantime, check out this video of the hoverbike performing a demonstration in Prague:


Sources:
wired.com, (2)

 

New Music Video Tells the Theory of Panspermia

Those who saw Prometheus recently, or witnessed the cinematic spectacle known as 2001: A Space Odyssey, will be instantly familiar with the concept. Basically, it asserts that life exists throughout the Universe and is distributed by meteoroids, asteroids and planetoids. In the more fantastic and imaginative version of this story, the distribution process is being helped along by alien “Engineers” or “Firstborn” who make it a point to seed worlds with their own genetic material, or tamper with existing life to promote evolution.

This new music video, produced by Tom Walsh, is a new and interesting take on the concept. Here, set to the music of “The Last Human on Earth” (by Swimming & Alex Herington), tells the story of a human engineer who is busy distributing human DNA throughout the Universe. Many times over, the name HERA comes up, which refers to Human Evolution Recovery Administration, a group that was formed in 1950 with the purpose of ensuring that humanity survives the death of our sun, our world, and any cataclysms that might come our way.

Check out the video below, and be sure to look up HERA at its website as well. Some very cool reading and watching!

Source: IO9

Back from seeing Prometheus!

As Stewie said when he learned that Child Services would be taking him away, “Finallllly!” Yes, that’s how I felt when we hopped in the car and were on our way to the theater. And though I am a week late in getting this review done, because last weekend we were diverted to see The Avengers, I think the wait was worth it!

And I should get some bonus points for doing it today. Because, as often proves the case with me, the cold has doubled back and reinfected me. You could say I was extra sympathetic to some of the characters in the this movie! But I don’t want to give anything away, I promised myself in advance that I would rate this movie without giving anything crucial away. So here goes…

First impressions:
The movie was pretty damn cool! The premise of ancient astronauts, which I knew they were employing here, is one I think pretty highly of. And the fact that they were going back to the Alien universe in such a way that they really wanted to capture the feel of the original was also pretty pleasing. And just about everyone I’ve heard speak on the subject has said that the visuals and effects were state of the art. They weren’t wrong.

That being said, I think they could have done the whole “Engineers” thing a bit better. In fact, what they had to say about their coming to Earth and what they looked like (which I shan’t get into for fear of spoilers) kind of called to mind how Stargate and AVP tackled the whole “aliens tampered with our history”. Still, Scott is nothing if not a master of crafting worlds and believable settings, so it was by no means in the same category. While I felt it could be better, it was still pretty damn good!

The Big Questions:
What’s more, this movie also filled in a great deal of details from the Alien franchises back story. Questions like what are the Xenomorphs, where did they come from, do their hosts and environments influence their appearance, why were they found aboard the Space Jockeys (“Engineers”) ship, and just who are the Jockeys anyway? All of these questions were addressed in this film and answered in one way or another. And of course, they left just enough mystery to keep the option open for further explorations in the Alien universe.

And I was pretty pleased with how they went about answering them, mainly because I’ve been studying them for some time now and heard quite a few theories. And sure, covering all this stuff did generate a certain “prequel duty” feel here and there, but Scott’s handling of all that seemed far superior to most others efforts. For one, I never really felt like they were wrapping things up in a neat little package, which is an annoying tendency to be found in most prequels. Take the Star Wars prequels, did those not feel like they were simply trying to connect the threads irrespective of plot? Yeah, well that wasn’t the case here.

Overall:
And that, I think, is what is best about this movie. Though it is technically a prequel, Scott and the makers seemed determined that it feel like a standalone story. I recall him saying as much in the course of an interview, and I truly felt like they succeeded. Granted, there were some flaws and some holes here and there, but these were hardly fatal and didn’t leave me thinking, “holy crap, that movie made no sense and was totally pointless and stupid!” Expectations and hopes were certainly high for this film, leading some to come away disappointed. But what can be said about them?

Sure, this movie wasn’t Alien, but there’s a reason for that! Scott already made that movie thirty-three years ago, and several directors have since taken the franchise in many different (and some would say wrong) directions. Going back to the before the beginning was the only option left really, reopening the franchise at a point before the original to answer all the tough, enduring questions that have fans have raised over the years. And that was no easy task and I could see beforehand how it would be riddled with potential pitfalls.

But in the end, I came away pretty pleased. Not only was this movie pretty good viewing, it was also a faithful return to the Alien universe… Frankly, I’d like to see what they come up with next!