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Boeing offers $1 million prize for inventing a personal flying machine

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/ The Flyboard Air is a personal flying machine that was once unveiled in 2016.

Boeing is providing $2 million in prizes—together with a $1 million best prize—to inventors of “safe, quiet, ultra-compact, near-VTOL personal flying devices capable of flying 20 miles while carrying a single person.” VTOL stands for vertical take-off and touchdown, which means that Boeing is having a look for one thing extra authentic than a standard ultralight plane. Boeing is proper that there is possible for technological breakthroughs right here, however on this planet of aviation, $1 million does not get you very a ways.

The thought of personal flying machines is hardly ever new. Personal jetpacks have existed since a minimum of the 1960s. But they have got at all times had critical differ and protection barriers, combating them from changing into extensively used.

In contemporary years, alternatively, there is been some signal that this may well be converting. Some other people have endured refining jet-pack era. One inventor has been dubbed the British Iron Man for his rocket go well with, whilst an experimental jet-powered hoverboard known as the FlyBoard Air was once unveiled ultimate yr (it prices $250,000 and is not but to be had to most people).

But the true alternative for personal transportation applied sciences may well be within the realm of personal drones. The identical technological tendencies which might be at the cusp of revolutionizing the auto trade—extra robust electrical motors, batteries, and instrument—also are beginning to impact the aviation trade.

A key innovation here’s using more than one propellers—4, 8, or much more—slightly than only one or two as you notice on a standard helicopter. This design has been made imaginable through extra robust batteries and lighter electrical motors, nevertheless it has additionally been enabled through higher instrument. A quadcopter can be tough for a human being to pilot if she needed to manually regulate the facility equipped to each and every motor the best way a pilot does on a standard airplane. Instead, quadcopters and different fashionable electrical airplane have instrument that handles those low-level main points mechanically.

That makes those cars more secure and extra strong since redundant batteries and propellers let them land gracefully even though some parts malfunction. New applied sciences additionally create the potential for a new technology of cars that folks can safely fly with a lot much less coaching than is needed for a standard helicopter or small plane.

This yr, a startup funded through Google’s Larry Page known as Kitty Hawk unveiled a roughly flying jet ski that may elevate a unmarried passenger aloft over our bodies of water. Various different startups—together with Lilium, Joby Aviation, and EHang—are running on all-electric, short-range cars that may take off and land vertically. Uber has bold plans to construct a community of small electrical flying machines for intracity transportation.

While the theory of electrical aviation does not appear loopy, there are severe causes to doubt that members within the Boeing festival would be the ones to crack this technological nut. A large one is the scale of the prize. One million bucks is a tiny sum of money within the aviation international. Larry Page has reportedly spent $100 million on Kitty Hawk, and a number of other VTOL airplane startups have raised tens of thousands and thousands of bucks in challenge capital. If you will have an concept for a viable personal flying machine, that concept is price a lot greater than $1 million, and also you may well be going immediately to challenge capitalists.

On the opposite hand, now not everybody has able get entry to to challenge capital cash, so the Boeing festival may provide a chance to a person or small workforce to convey leading edge design concepts to a greater target market. Under the competition regulations, inventors retain rights to their innovations, leaving them loose to commercialize them after the competition is over.

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