Bio-Fueled Personal Jet Packs or High Speed Vacuum Packed Tubes?

The future of transportation is upon us. From personal to public, visions of the modes of transportation in the future will have us racing through tubes in high-speed capsules, or taking to the skies in personal jetpacks. Whether inevitable or just the product of somebody’s whimsical fantasy, moving around in the future will be definitely be a very different affair – and hopefully a much speedier one. Read more

Hyperloop, Vacuum Tubes Shaping Up As Travel Of The Future?

CBSNewYork/AP, Los Angeles (12 August 2013):

Imagine traveling from Manhattan to Beijing in two hours. A couple of innovative minds believe they know how to cut travel time drastically, using high-speed capsules racing through tubes – much like making a drive-through transaction at a bank.

Colorado inventor Daryl Oster calls his idea the “Evacuated Tube Transport Technology” and says it can send someone 400 miles from Los Angeles to San Francisco in about a half-hour. His technology would require a system for sending a capsule through a vacuum tube with the air sucked out just like outer space, eliminating friction.

“What you’ll feel is like if you’re in a Corvette and push the throttle down all the way,” Oster told CBS 2’s Barry Petersen.

Oster’s idea is similar to another one being floated by Elon Musk, who has made billions of dollars creating Tesla electric cars, the online payment system PayPal and SpaceX, one of the world’s first private rockets for launching satellites.

Musk has been dropping hints about his “Hyperloop” system for more than a year during public events, mentioning that it could never crash, would be immune to weather and would move people from Los Angeles to San Francisco also in about 30 minutes. On Monday, he finally revealed details of his plan for the solar-powered, elevated transit system.  Musk said his Hyperloop would transport people — or cars — in aluminum pods traveling 800 mph through steel tubes.

“You just see a carpet of cars that aren’t moving, and it’s just like, ‘Wow, how much misery is that causing?’ and surely there’s something we can do about it,” Musk told CBS in an earlier interview.

Musk, however, said he is too focused on other projects to consider actually building it.

“I think I kind of shot myself by ever mentioning the Hyperloop,” he said. “I don’t have any plans to execute because I must remain focused on SpaceX and Tesla.”

Musk said he invites critical feedback to his design “to see if the people can find ways to improve it.” It will be an open-source design, meaning anyone can use it and modify it.

So why aren’t Oster’s and Musk’s plans imminent? It will take at least several billion dollars before one or the other can come to life.

Complicating matters further is that another set of California dreamers has already come up with a high-speed rail system with speeds of 220 mph, making an L.A.-to-San Francisco trip in three hours possible. The rail, approved by voters last November, would cost nearly $70 billion.

“To meet the needs of the 50 million people that we’re going to have in the next 20 or 30 years, we have to build more freeways, more airports and do things that are going to cost a lot more than the high-speed rail system is going to cost,” reasoned Dan Richards, chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

Musk and Oster said their transport devices would cost only about one-tenth of the California high-speed rail.



Jetpack man soars over U.S. alongside B-17 bomber

Yves Rossy, known as Jetman, wowed attendees at the EEA air show, which also hosted Terrafugia’s flying car.

By Tim Hornyak for Cnet (30 July 2013):

Next time you’re stuck in traffic, just imagine soaring above it all with a personal jetpack like Yves Rossy. The Swiss adventurer just made his debut U.S. flight in grand style.

Jetman, as Rossy is known, appeared alongside a vintage B-17 bomber at the EAA AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wis., in his first public flight in the U.S.

He flew in formation with the bomber, coming within several feet of the fuselage, before parachuting to a safe landing.

Jetman has been thrilling crowds and aviators around the world with his custom-made jet suit, zooming across the English Channel in 2008.

The wing measures 6.5 feet across and is powered by four JetCat P200 turbines with 48 pounds of thrust each. The suit’s average speed is 124 mph.

Rossy, a veteran fighter and commercial pilot, has been working on various prototypes of the wing since 1993, going through inflatable and rigid versions and experimenting with engine configurations.

Check out a video of Rossy’s latest flight at BBC News.

Jetman was joined at the air show by the Terrafugia Transition, the greatly anticipated flying car that has gone through several prototypes on the road to commercialization.

The sky-mobile, which could cost nearly $300,000 when it comes out in a few years, marked its first public demonstration of driving and flying as it sailed low above onlookers.

Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of “Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots.” He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade.



Jetpack cleared by New Zealand authorities to carry a pilot

By Dominique Schwartz for ABC news (14 August 2013):

The New Zealand makers of a one-person jetpack hope to have it on sale by the middle of next year.

The Martin Aircraft company says its jetpack can reach speeds of up to 70 kilometres per hour and soar 1 kilometre high.

The Christchurch-based firm has been testing its prototype 12 via remote control.

The New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority said the jetpack has now been issued with an experimental flight permit for development test flying, which allows someone to pilot the aircraft.

Martin Aircraft says it has had 10,000 enquiries from people keen to take to the skies, but it is likely to first sell the jetpacks to government and emergency agencies involved in search and rescue and defence.

Chief executive Peter Coker said a simpler model aimed at the general public is expected to be on the market in 2015.

He said the certification was a significant milestone in the development of the jetpack.

“For us it’s a very important step because it moves it out of what I call a dream into something which I believe we’re now in a position to commercialise and take forward very quickly,” he said.

The jetpack is the brainchild of inventor Glenn Martin, who began working on it in his Christchurch garage more than 30 years ago.

Inspired by childhood television shows such as Thunderbirds and Lost in Space, Mr Martin set out in the early 1980s to create a jetpack suitable for everyday use by ordinary people with no specialist pilot training.

The jetpack consists of a pair of cylinders containing propulsion fans attached to a free-standing carbon-fibre frame.

A pilot backs into the frame, straps himself in and controls the wingless jetpack with two joysticks.

While the jetpack’s concept is simple – Time magazine likened it to two enormous leaf blowers welded together – fine-tuning it into an aircraft that is safe and easy to use has been a lengthy process.

Mr Coker said the latest prototype incorporated huge design improvements over earlier versions.

“Changing the position of the jetpack’s ducts has resulted in a quantum leap in performance over the previous prototype, especially in terms of the aircraft’s manoeuvrability,” he said.


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