In what may be a preview of the future of athletics, Hubo, a humanoid robot, carried the Olympic torch in Daejeon, South Korea as part of the relay leading up to the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Hubo, who was built by a team at the KAIST public research university and took out the DARPA Robotics Challenge in 2015, had to perform a disaster rescue operation to hand off the torch to the next runner.
An Australian startup called Alauda has an ambition to fast-track that reality with its electric, low-altitude aircraft, the Airspeeder Mark I.
Alauda is founded by Matt Pearson, who also cofounded space startup Fleet. Over the past two years, Pearson has been working on the project as part of a team of five in a Sydney warehouse.
Unlike the DeLorean, Pearson’s Airspeeder Mark I is a quadcopter — essentially a bigger version of a drone, with a single seat for the pilot.
“About three years ago I started to look at hover technology, and magnetic hovering. The problem with that is you need to build a track as well as the vehicle. You can’t just build a magnetic hover car and fly it on any road, you need to build the road,” Pearson explained to Mashable.
Tesla’s all-electric Semi truck has been the biggest story of the year for freight hauling, but the rig won’t even go into production until 2019, assuming everything actually goes according to plan.
In the meantime, Elon Musk’s dream machine will face some steep competition from other future-forward truck companies looking to cut in on the marketshare with energy and emissions-conscious fleet operators. The newest player just threw its hat — or more appropriately, its mythological hammer — into the ring: Thor Trucks, a new Los Angeles-based startup, has an all-electric semi truck design that could convince trucking companies to pass on a new Tesla in two years’ time.
Executive Chairman Bill Ford and new CEO Jim Hackett were in China to make the announcement. “China is not only the largest car market in the world, it’s also at the heart of electric vehicle and SUV growth and the mobility movement,” said Bill Ford. “The progress we have achieved in China is just the start.”
Case in point: The City of Las Vegas and AAA’s self-driving shuttle, one of the most advanced public autonomous trials in the U.S., was hit by a semi-truck within hours of its maiden trip last month. The Navya Arma bus was stuck between a car behind it and the slowly advancing truck, which backed its way into the the shuttle.