Flying taxis are taking off to whisk people around cities

In october 1908, on a windy field at Farnborough, south-west of London, a handlebar-mustachioed former Wild West showman named Samuel Cody completed the first official controlled flight of a powered aeroplane in Britain. Since then many other pioneering aircraft, from Concorde to the giant Airbus A380, have flown at what became the biennial Farnborough air […]

Extreme robotics: cleaning up nuclear waste

Some people worry about robots taking work away from human beings, but there are a few jobs that even these sceptics admit most folk would not want. One is cleaning up radioactive waste, particularly when it is inside a nuclear power station—and especially if the power station in question has suffered a recent accident. Those […]

Inside the body shop: 3D printing replacement body parts

A robotic lawnmower keeping the grass neat and tidy outside a modern industrial building in Carrigtwohill, near Cork in Ireland, is a good indication that something whizzy may be going on inside. And so it proves. The airy production hall contains row after row of 3d printers, each the size of a large fridge-freezer. The machines […]

How to knit a sports car: carbon fibre manufacturing

Bertha resides on a quiet industrial estate in Bristol, in the west of Britain. The affectionate name has been given to what at first appears to be a giant loom from the Industrial Revolution. And in some ways it is. Bertha (pictured above) is an automated braiding machine. Like a horizontal maypole, ribbons of carbon […]

Second time around for Concorde: the return of supersonic travel

Every morning, time once was, a giant roar from Heathrow Airport would announce the departure of flight ba001 to New York. The roar was caused by the injection into the aircraft’s four afterburners of the fuel which provided the extra thrust that it needed to take off. Soon afterwards, the pilot lit the afterburners again—this […]

Pies in the sky: fast-food deliveries by drone are taking off

Maron kristófersson is looking forward to the completion of a new roof on his office in downtown Reykjavik. It is not that the old roof leaked, but rather that the new one will be heated. Mr Kristófersson is the boss of aha, which delivers on behalf of restaurants and shops in Iceland’s capital. The heated […]

Helicopters of the future will fly in new ways. Pilots will be optional

UNLIKE a helicopter, aeroplanes are inclined to fly, Harry Reasoner, a veteran American newsman, wryly observed after watching choppers in action during the Vietnam war. He wrote: A helicopter does not want to fly. It is maintained in the air by a variety of forces and controls working in opposition to each other, and if […]