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Boeing Flies Autonomous Prototype

It's the future of autonomous air taxis. Also, a flying robot walks and a stool maker invites you to sit and spin.

Researchers Create Walking, Flying Robot

Researchers from the Northeastern University College of Engineering are working on a robot that can walk and fly. The hope is that the robots may one day be used to autonomously explore other planets. The robot is still under development, as you can see from the exhilarating footage of the robot’s standing tests.

The robot is call LEONARDO (LEg ON Aerial Robotic DrOne).

The work comes from Alireza Ramezani, a roboticist whose previous work includes the Bat Bot, a three-ounce flying prototype that mimicked the flight patterns of fruit bats. The Bat Bot was designed to be able to access and assess disaster sites.

Building off of his previous work, LEONARDO will not only be able to fly over these harsh environments, but walk as well. The robot’s sensors scan the environment and if, for example, the terrain starts to give way, Leo can activate its thrusters, take off and fly above it.

The robot is about 2.5 feet tall, weighs six pounds and has a thin body made of carbon fiber.

With the design, the researchers wanted to address a big challenge for bipedal robots: falling. Their answer: A robot that never falls.

New Stool Invites You to Sit & Spin

A team of designers out of the Graduate School of Creative Design Engineering at UNIST has developed the stool.D, a futuristic bike-inspired piece of furniture. Essentially it’s an IKEA stool with a DeskCycle.

According to the designers, the stool.D is the convergence of technology and art used to create futuristic furniture that is stylish and functional.

The designers hope that the stool could revolutionize the way people exercise. On a base level, I understand the design -- you buy a fan bicycle for the home and it's never seemed so large and obnoxious until you're looking for a place to put it.

This stool is designed to resemble the letter ‘D’ and it’s also equipped with LED lights that rotate around the hull to add a “fun element”.

The stool.D was recently showcased at Dubai Design Week 2018 with 149 other "life-changing inventions" like a leg-lift recliner and a couch with that pulldown machine Lincoln Hawk had in the cab of his truck.

Boeing Flies Autonomous Prototype

Boeing's autonomous passenger air vehicle (PAV) prototype has finally flown. Well, at least the prototype urban air mobility eVTOL has successfully completed its first test flight.

Boeing released some footage of a test flight held near the company’s autonomous flight subsidiary, Aurora Flight Systems in Manassas, VA. In the video you see the experimental craft takeoff, hover and descend, but you don't see it land. What game are you playing Boeing, or was it just not smooth enough of a landing for prime time?

The effort is spearheaded by Boeing NeXt, which leads the company’s urban air mobility efforts and will oversee Aurora as it continues test‌ing to advance the safety and reliability of on-demand autonomous air travel.

The test assessed the vehicle's autonomous functions and ground control systems. Next, the team will test forward and wing-borne flight, as well as the transition phase between vertical and forward-flight modes -- typically the most difficult engineering challenge for any high-speed VTOL aircraft.

The PAV is powered by an electric propulsion system and designed for fully autonomous flight for up to 50 miles. The aircraft is 30 feet long, 28 feet wide, and has an airframe that integrates the propulsion and wing systems to achieve efficient hover and forward flight.

In November 2017, Boeing completed its acquisition of Aurora Flight Sciences, which has some experience in innovative design work, such as the experimental LightningStrike VTOL, the Orion unmanned aircraft that can travel 3,000 miles in a single mission; and the SideArm, which is a giant arm used to launch UAVs.

What is impressive is that the team has gone from a conceptual design to a flying prototype in just one year. It was likely made more possible when that Boeing money train came crashing through the doors, but I’m only speculating.

This is Engineering By Design.

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