Flash forward 20 years. Everyone has access to an open-source personal rapid prototyper (notwithstanding a fabber equivalent of Bill Gates…) and can rustle up one of these homebrew UAVs: at the drop of a futuristic ambient computer thing:
Combined with a RC plane, this makes it easy to build a complete UAV for less than $500, which is really kind of amazing. As exciting as that it is, it’s also sobering to know that a technology that was just a few years ago the sole domain of the military is now within the reach of amateurs…
As Charles Stross points out, ready-to print Saturday night specials could be only a decade away, and along with the UAVs and the fabbers it makes the next few years an interesting time to be alive.
[via Warren Ellis][image from tanakawho on flickr]
The guardian has a technology article about a UK study on hypersonic aviation that concluded that producing a plane fueled by liquid hydrogen could feasibly transport commercial passengers on long distances in much shorter times than current planes. Provided the hydrogen is created without using hydrocarbons (not easy currently but potentially doable in the future), the flight will be pollution-low, as hydrogen burns to form plain old water, although as the correction to the article mentions, Nitrogen oxide byproducts would still need to be contained.
There are issues though, before we can hop on a sub-orbital or hypersonic flight. Like the Virgin Galactic project, there are concerns about how well us puny humans can cope up there in high-atmosphere at very fast speeds. And, like Paul said earlier today, the future is expensive, including that of flight – will people be willing to pay many times more for such a ticket? Incidentally, isn’t it neat that the design looks and behaves just like the ‘Fireflash’ hypersonic airliner out of Thunderbirds? Supermarionation is the future!
[link and picture via the guardian]
O’Reilly Radar reminds me of FlightAware, a resource that combines great pragmatic utility and pure geeky fun. FlightAware shows you exactly where just about any commercial flight is at this moment. With airport Wi-Fi and a laptop, you can know more about when your delayed flight will arrive than the gate crew.