futurism.com | The 11 Photos That Show the Past, Present, and Future of Flying Cars

Long before The Jetsons showed an average joe flying to work in a flying car, people dreamt of a flying car for the masses. But even today, that dream is still in its infancy. There is a lot of work to be done until the modern world is ready for mass-produced, affordable, airborne cars…and it’s not hard to see why.

Technological constraints have made it nearly impossible for the flying car to become a reality—but not totally impossible. Whether it’s the careful balancing act of weight and energy consumption (see: drones) or the obvious safety concerns of untrained pilots taking to the sky, flying cars have yet to become a viable mode of transport.

To fully appreciate how difficult it is to get the flying car off the ground, and understand where we are in relation to development, here’s a look at where we are headed, and a look at some of the cornerstone inventions that brought us to where we are today.

1904 – Jules Verne’s “Terror”


Source: verniana.org

One of the first examples of the flying car can be found in one of French author, and grandfather of science fiction, Jules Verne’s last novels, Master of the World. The protagonist of the novel, a brilliant inventor, creates “the Terror”—a 30-foot-long vehicle that is not only a car and a plane, but is amphibious as well.

1917 – The Curtiss Autoplane


Credit: Wikimedia Commons

One of the earliest real-world attempts at making a car fly came only thirteen years later. Aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss built a prototype of a flying automobile: the triplane Curtiss Autoplane, which offered space for three passengers: The pilot in the front and two passengers in the rear. Its 100 horsepower engine was able to lift it off the ground, but it was never able to take off during test flights. The project was cut short when the United States entered World War I.

1946 – The Fulton Airphibian


Credit: Bernard Hoffman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Image

Designed by Robert Edison Fulton Jr., this six-cylinder aircraft featured a car-grade suspension and easily removable wings. The idea of an easily converted “airphibian” flying car became an overwhelmingly popular one with the public, paving the road for countless future (yet fruitless) attempts at being the first true flying car of the masses. Financial concerns resulted in it never leaving the prototype stage.

1947 – Henry Dreyfuss Convaircar


Credit: FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

What if the flying car was just a regular car, with a specialized removable airplane attachment that gave it wings? The 35-foot wide (10.6 meter) aircraft engine attachment could be removed from the roof of the four-seat car body and towed while on the ground. The, almost comically simple, idea ended in disaster when its first test pilot fatally crashed.

1957 – Piasecki VZ-8 Airgeep


Credit: avionslegendaires.net

The military also showed interest in the growing phenomenon of the flying car, even though its usefulness was yet to be proven. The US Army tasked three auto-pioneers with developing a “flying jeep” that would operate close to the ground but could traverse difficult terrain by flying over it. The ducted-fan design of American engineer Piasecki won, but it was later deemed unfit for modern combat.

1980s – The Boeing Sky Commuter


Credit: Barrett-Jackson Auction Company

This futuristic design by aerospace giant Boeing from the 1980s has all the hallmarks of what we imagine when we think of a flying car: A sleek aerodynamic chassis, vertical takeoff and landing, a roomy interior, and a compact shell. It was a significant step away from the limitations of a convertible flying car; an all-in-one vehicle that didn’t require the attachment or removal of wings or even a runway. The Sky Commuter project died before it could be fully realized, as the project costs ballooned to $6 million—a price tag far too high for Boeing at the time.

Ongoing – The Moller Skycar


Credit: Moller International 

Moller International has specialized in personal, vertical landing and takeoff vehicles for more than fifty years and is still working to make the flying car a reality. Even with state-of-the-art computer technology (and with not insignificant support from investors), the Moller Skycar has yet to fly without external help. Moller International has continued to research and develop new flying car technology.

Present – PAL-V One

Credit: PAL-V

The PAL-V One (“Personal Air and Land Vehicle”) strips the chassis down significantly by focusing on a three-wheeled car design. It features a propeller and rotor on the roof that allows it to take off like a helicopter, while the relatively large wheels and the fact it leans into curves enable it to be driven like a motorcycle. The company is planning to open the very first flying car school and to deliver the first units next year.

Future – Project Vahana


Credit: Project Vahana

Airbus released its plans for the “future of urban mobility” earlier this year. Dubbed “Project Vahana,” Airbus has been working on a flying car concept that takes a page out of recent developments in drone technology. The current iteration of the not-yet-realized concept features an “eight fan tilt-wing” design, hoping to “improve cruise aerodynamics” and lower energy requirements.

2018 – AeroMobil


Credit: AeroMobil

Modernizing the concept of foldaway wings, Slovak flying car developer AeroMobil is attempting to take to the skies with the use of regular gasoline. It only requires a couple of hundred feet of paved or unpaved surface for takeoff and landing. The project proved it had legs (or wings) in 2013 and 2014 with two successful flights, but endured a setback when the third iteration of the prototype crashed during a test flight. The team hopes to take the AeroMobil to market as early as 2018.

2027 – Xplorair PX200


Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Another example of an ongoing vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft project is the French Armed Forces funded Xplorair PX200. Announced in 2007, the project aims to say “goodbye” to conventional “rotating aerofoils,” such as the ones found in the AeroMobil, and to replace them with small jet engines, fitted inside the wing. To further set it apart, the jet engine relies on a uniquely developed thermoreactor that is more compact and produces more thrust than conventional jet engines. The project aims to commercialize the Xplorair in 2027.

The post The 11 Photos That Show the Past, Present, and Future of Flying Cars appeared first on Futurism.

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futurism.com | Synthetic Cells Have Passed A Turing Test

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

Amid rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI), humans use the Turing test to determine if a machine is truly intelligent. If a computer is capable of thinking like a human, then it should be able to trick another human into thinking they’re having a real conversation with a person instead of a machine.

In a twist on the classic test, scientists created artificial single-cell organisms able to convince natural cells that they are real.

“We have been interested in the divide between living and nonliving chemical systems for quite some time now, but it was never really clear where this divide fell,” one of the team, Sheref S. Mansy from the University of Trento, Italy, told ResearchGate.

Mansy continued:

All cells engage in some form of chemical communication. If we could build an artificial cell that can trick a natural cell into “thinking” that it is talking to another natural cell, then we would have made a big step forward in constructing a more life-like chemical system.

The team created artificial cells, made from cell-like structures packed with DNA instructions that would be used to make RNA, to produce specific proteins given a particular stimuli—in this case, a bacterial molecule: acyl homoserine lactone (AHL). To pass this test, the artificial cells must be able to interact with the real cells and produce the proteins.

To demonstrate the concept, the scientists placed the artificial cells near living bacteria—E. Coli, Vibrio fischeri, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa—at which point they started to produce the proteins. This implied the artificial cells were responding to the bacterial stimuli. To reinforce the communication between the artificial cells and the living bacteria, the researchers also gave the artificial cells the ability to produce their own AHLs, similar to how simple life forms (such as bacteria or algae) in nature communicate.

Two-Way Chemical Communication between Artificial and Natural Cells. Image Credit: American Chemical Society

Single-Celled AI

While this shows that artificial cells can indeed communicate with living organisms, the researchers note that there is more work to be done.

“Artificial cells can sense the molecules that are naturally secreted from bacteria, and in response synthesise and release chemical signals back to the bacteria,” says Mansy.

But right now, these responses are triggered via a “translation machinery” of sorts. Eventually, the goal is to have the cells produce the same result using their own translation method or system.

Still, it should be noted that the team managed to get artificially created cells to seamlessly interact with natural, living bacteria. This means that, in the future, we could produce these artificial cells and engineer them to communicate paths between organisms that don’t naturally communicate on their own. Reversing this process could also allow these artificial cells to disrupt the signals of pathogenic bacteria. And with further development, this could be used to interfere with biofilms that help clear infections.

The post Synthetic Cells Have Passed A Turing Test appeared first on Futurism.

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Alcatel sets MWC event for February 27, says ‘Light up’

Alcatel phones are packing their bags for the Mobile World Congress. The press conference has the tag line “Light Up” and will start in the morning of February 27 in Barcelona.

According to rumors, Alcatel will launch 5 smartphones which will feature a modular design similar to the Moto Z and its Moto Mods. One of the add-ons will be a colorful LED panel, similar to the image on the press invite. Those lines will dance to the music, similar to the JBL Pulse.

An invite to Alcatel’s MWC event

Will we see all Androids or will Alcatel keep the Windows Phone dream alive? It is, after…

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Dad Drives His Daughter To The Wild After Divorce, What Happens Next Will Strike You

We all know that divorce can be an emotionally fraught process that takes a psychological and emotional toll on a family. But how many people stop to consider the potentially devastating effect it has on non-human members of a household?

In this video, a little girl is taken home to meet her adoptive family on her new sister’s birthday. For a while everybody is content, but then conflict occurs with increasing frequency and the family breaks down. The adopted girl’s parents no longer seem interested in her wellbeing, and her sibling no longer wants to play with her.

Following this period of strife and breakdown, the father drives the girl to a remote location. Using her favorite toy as a distraction, he abandons her. In the last section of the film, the girl turns into a dog and the film’s ultimate message is revealed. The “adopted girl” is actually a dog gifted to the father’s daughter, and now faces being left to an uncertain fate. Cold and alone, she stares in confusion at the car as it drives away.

This thought-provoking piece perfectly illustrates why pets should be considered important members of the family, and why they should only be adopted by those responsible enough to care for them regardless of circumstance.

The post Dad Drives His Daughter To The Wild After Divorce, What Happens Next Will Strike You appeared first on Lifehack.

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Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 taken apart, easily

It’s best if you never have to, but if you do need to take apart your Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 at least now you have a guide. And as it turns out, it’s not that much of a hassle.

Most components (including the aluminum back cover) are not secured by screws so you just need to pry them off. Usually, it’s either glue or double-sided tape that holds pieces to the motherboard and the team at FoneArena that disassembled the phone reports it worked just fine after they put it back together.

Here’s an interesting note – the Redmi Note 4 that is powered by a Snapdragon 625 used a Sony IMX 258…

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WhatsApp sued by German consumer group

The Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband or the Federation of German Consumer Organisations claims WhatsApp’s changed privacy terms in August are illegal.

Back in the summer the messaging platform passed a statement that it starts to transfer some data to Facebook’s social network. “Each consumer must be able to decide on his own which personal data is revealed and how it is used”, the group said.

We remind you that Germany is the only country in EU without nationwide Google Street View due to request from the very same organization.


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Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 won’t get Android 7.1.2

It turns out that the Motorola Nexus 6 and HTC Nexus 9 are getting the cold shoulder on the Android 7.1.2 update. That was confirmed to DroidLife by a Google employee.

Android 7.1.2 is the next planned update and will be out in a few months with some optimizations and bug fixes. Since both the Nexus 9 and Nexus 6 are past their updates-guaranteed timeframe (2 years) it’s no surprise to see them left out.

On a positive note Google will continue to bring the must-have security patches to both devices for at least another year. That’s good news for people reluctant to let go of their…

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