Category Archives: Science and Technology

Videos: Leading edge space technologies presented at the 2018 NIAC Symposium

Check out the latest leading edge technology ideas presented this week by winners of NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program grants at the 2018 NIAC Symposium underway in Boston till Thursday. The agenda (pdf) lists the talks and you can watch the presentations at the NIAC 2018 Livestream.

Below are videos of three of the sessions on Tuesday. The presenters included, for example, Ryan Weed of Positron Dynamics on antimatter catalyzed fusion propulsion, Stephanie Thomas of Princeton Satellite Systems on a plasma magnetic fusion propulsion design, and James Woodward of the Space Studies Institute on a Mach Effect drive.

This video from Princeton Satellite Systems describes their fusion propulsion design:

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Sci-Tech: Videos of Fly Astro Elroy and Metro Skyways CityHawk VTOL vehicles

*** Fly Astro is developing Elroy (previously called “Passenger Drone”), another electrically powered Vertical-Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) vehicle making flight look easy:

More at Transport Canada grants Astro Aerospace SFOC for flight testing of their passenger drone, “Elroy”. OTC Markets:ASDN.

*** Latest video for CityHawk from Metro Skyways and Urban Aero:

More at CityHawk eVTOL flying car entering “full-scale development” – New Atlas.

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Sci-Tech videos: Origami Underwater Robots + Tokamak Energy + A Tesla factory tour

The latest episode of TMRO:Science, a “Weekly Science and Innovation Show”, is about “Origami Underwater Robots”: 

Lisa and Jade chat to Brennan Phillips (University of Rhode Island) and Zhi Ern Teoh (Harvard University) about an underwater self-folding polyhedral robot capable of gently capturing ocean creature and releasing them unharmed.

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A TEDx talk by Melanie Windridge of Tokamak Energy on the possibility of fusion power plants going on line by 2030:

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Elon Musk gives Marques Brownlee a tour of the Tesla factory in Fremont, California and explains what tasks robots do best and where human workers do best:

See also Brownlee’s interview with Musk.

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Sci-Tech: VTOL vehicles from Opener, Kitty Hawk, and Aston Martin

The BlackFly vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) craft is not a concept but has actually flown over “1,000+ flights and 10,000+ miles”:

BlackFly; the world’s first ultralight all-electric fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. A single-seat Personal Aerial Vehicle (PAV) designed and built for a new world of three-dimensional transportation.

The Silicon Valley based company Opener has been developing the vehicle since 2011.

BlackFly is simple to master and requires no formal licensing (in USA) or special skills to operate safely. Though BlackFly has full amphibious capabilities, it is primarily designed to easily operate from small grassy areas and travel distances of up to 25 miles at a speed of 62 mph (USA restriction).

OPENER is re-energizing the art of flight with a safe and affordable flying vehicle that can free its operators from the everyday restrictions of ground transportation,” said Marcus Leng, CEO. “We will offer competitive pricing in an endeavor to democratize three-dimensional personal transportation. Safety has been our primary driving goal in the development of this new technology. OPENER will be introducing this innovation in a controlled and responsible manner.  Even though not required by FAA regulations, BlackFly operators will be required to successfully complete the FAA Private Pilot written examination and also complete company-mandated vehicle familiarization and operator training.”

The OPENER team has spent the last nine years in stealth mode, designing, developing, and testing new innovative technologies which have now evolved into the zero-emission BlackFly vehicles.  Fault-tolerant design and triple modular redundancy reside at the core of these vehicles. Eight propulsion systems, spread across two wings, provide for multiple-failure security. Years of continuous testing, combined with 1,000+ flights and 10,000+ miles flown, form the bedrock of OPENER’s development program.

OPENER’s long-term vision is to integrate these highly-efficient vehicles into a rural/urban commuting network. These networks would be powered by renewable energy sources requiring only a fraction of the transportation energy used currently.

More at

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Google co-founder Larry Page is an investor in Opener – Larry Page invests in another flying car startup – KEYT – and also has his own personal VTOL vehicle company called Kitty Hawk. The Kitty Hawk Flyer is intended for different purposes than the BlackFly. Rather than commuting over land, the Flyer is a recreational vehicle for flying over water. In fact, it is limited to flying no higher than 3 meters/10 feet and 20 mph. It can fly for 12-20 minutes.

More about the Flyer at

The Cora is Kitty Hawk’s entry in the VTOL air taxi market. The two passenger vehicle will initially travel up to “62 miles / about 100 kilometres” and at “about 110 miles per hour / about 180 kilometres per hour”. Flights of the Cora, under development in New Zealand, have not yet been demonstrated in public.

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This VTOL single-seater isn’t flying yet but it will sure be one of the coolest looking ones if it ever does: The Aston Martin Volante Vision Concept | Aston Martin

Aston Martin Volante concept VTOL transport

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