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British Start-Up Tests Flying Saucers

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the all-of-their-video-are-grainy-and-out-of-focus dept.

Sci-Fi 65

Sabre Runner writes to mention that a new British start-up, Aesir, has acquired the assets of a defunct drone company and is working on evolving a working model from several prototypes of "flying saucer" drones. "Aesir's first prototype, named 'Embler' [...] demonstrates the so-called 'Coanda effect,' where air speeds up as it 'sticks' to a curved surface. Aesir's drones take advantage of the Coanda effect to direct air down, away from the drone, boosting lift. Aesir doesn't appear to have any paying customers yet — and is reportedly bankrolled by a single investor."

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fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28902617)

ladies, get your pussies [youtube.com] ready!

Re:fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28902685)

Thanks for sharing. Can't wait to seethe full version.

Off-Topic - Tagging (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28902965)

What's the good reason why I have never once added a tag to a story, refreshed the main page, and then seen my tag in place? Serious question. Does this happen to anyone else?

It can't be because several people have to choose a tag before it actually shows up. I have seen far too many unique or unusal tags for this to be plausible.

Mods, please note that I marked the subject of this post as Off-topic and that there's not really anywhere else I can ask this and get a good answer as to whether other regular Slashdot users have the same experience. Please have some leniency on me for that, it is not my intent to disrupt the discussion.

Re:Off-Topic - Tagging (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28903447)

I've seen my tags show up. I must be part of the hive mind.

could it be ... (2, Funny)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 5 years ago | (#28902621)

Aesir doesn't appear to have any paying customers yet -- and is reportedly bankrolled by a single investor

CSG [google.com] ?

Re:could it be ... (1)

Asclepius99 (1527727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28902947)

Are you kidding? He's had flying saucers since the mid-90s.

Not for long (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 5 years ago | (#28902653)

reportedly bankrolled by a single investor

...until he's finally extradited to the US.

Looks fake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28902697)

It looks really fake is all I can think. I know it's real but the speed of takeoff and whatnot makes it look fake.

I can see a lot of military and spying technology resulting from this. Dependent on how quiet it is and how much it can lift and how long it can fly anyhow. Other than that, they could at least corner the market on hobbyists and children's toys.

Re:Looks fake (1)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903021)

It looks really fake is all I can think. I know it's real but the speed of takeoff and whatnot makes it look fake.

I can see a lot of military and spying technology resulting from this. Dependent on how quiet it is and how much it can lift and how long it can fly anyhow. Other than that, they could at least corner the market on hobbyists and children's toys.

Personally I suspect (but couldn't hope to prove, of course) that most of these UFOs are actually advanced, classified military vehicles. Isn't it true that the projects that eh, "don't officially exist" are usually a decade or two (or more) ahead of private industry? That would hold for a variety of reasons, not the least being that the government can get the funding and talent it needs and doesn't have to make a profit in a marketplace. If so, it would make sense that people have been reporting "flying saucer" type UFOs for years and finally we see companies starting to independently produce them.

Remember that the stealth bomber was classified for some 30+ years. Someone who saw it, a large black "flying wing" (I think it's called a delta wing?) object in the sky, would have concluded that it's not likely to be a normal airplane and certainly isn't a helicopter, making it an "unidentified flying object." To me that seems quite plausible.

Re:Looks fake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28903215)

As for the possibility of present-day humans guiding manned secret UFO aircrafts [nsa.gov] , unlikely.

If it was a cover to hide US aerospace designs there would be reams of paperwork describing operating procedures that would have turned up in court enforced FOI discoveries and fact-finding inquiries demanded by congressional committees some 50-60 years after the fact. We also wouldn't have people like Milton Torres coming forward saying they were told to shoot down UFOs. It also wouldn't make sense for the US to buzz [abovetopsecret.com] their own planes [wikipedia.org] . Likewise, why would the US conduct massive studies in to a phenomenon (Project Twinkle, Project Sign, Grudge, Blue Book, etc) which could be attributed to its own manufacture? It would be a waste of time, resources, and man-power with potential to expose the cover project.

Also consider that if all unexplained UFO sightings represent secret American aircrafts then the United States has "spent hundreds of billions of dollars on known and highly inferior aircraft to be used in a cover-up of such deeply classified activities. These inferior aircraft must have been used and continue to be used while far superior aircraft have been kept in hiding instead of being employed to prevent or win wars which have cost many lives and endangered many more."(1 [freedomofinfo.org] )

It simply doesn't make sense.

Re:Looks fake (1)

bigdavex (155746) | more than 5 years ago | (#28905101)

Someone who saw it, a large black "flying wing" (I think it's called a delta wing?)

IANAAE, but those are different concepts.

A delta wing is a kind of wing: one that is shaped like the letter delta (a triangle).
A flying wing is a king of aircraft that essentially lacks a fuselage. It's an aircraft that is all wing.

Relatively airplaney-looking things (e.g., a A-4 Skyhawk) have delta wings.

Re:Looks fake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28906423)

As far as I know, the technology exists and is even publicly known to some extent. I'm not sure how great the lift actually is, because all the models I've seen so far appear to be very lightweight foam and/or cardboard. This guy does a neat job showing off one of these toys. [online.fr] Still it would be interesting what composites and a decent high-bypass fanjet might do. It might actually be useful in situations where a risk of collision and rotorstrike would completely wreck a helicopter.

But I suppose it is possible for some technology that has previously been fairly public [online.fr] to go classified. Of course you could ask professor J. Reece Roth about what happens when your startup company signs papers involving gov't contracts, and then what happens in regards to export controlled technology laws when you have foreign students intern on related projects. I'm pretty sure there was a not too old slashdot article on it.

Spin control? (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 5 years ago | (#28902743)

So assuming it's for real, how do they cancel the spin?

Re:Spin control? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28904131)

Bill O'Reilly.

Re:Spin control? (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904429)

So assuming it's for real, how do they cancel the spin?

Contra-rotating fans.

Re:Spin control? (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907785)

how do they cancel the spin?

Note the vanes on the side of the vehicle. They're taking some of the force of the air flowing downward to create a countervailing torque.

In theory, you could do the same kind of thing with a helicopter, but stator vanes to cancel the torque effect would be terribly unwieldy compared to a tail rotor.

-jcr

So Long (1)

KingPin27 (1290730) | more than 5 years ago | (#28902761)

I For one Say farewell to the aliens new overlords.

Avrocar anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28902773)

Didn't we learn back in the late 1950's that the flying saucer design using the Coanda effect is doomed to fail?

http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread449104/pg1#pid6464036

Re:Avrocar anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28902969)

ummmm....no?

Re:Avrocar anyone? (1)

codegen (103601) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903223)

The avrocar didn't use the Coanda effect, they had a turbine through the center.

Re:Avrocar anyone? (2, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#28905505)

No. This saucer company is named after Æsir, the True Norse Gods and will make drones that will be used to hunt down and KILL! Taliban and other Islamists in Afghanistan, Iraq and Malmö.

According to Norse theology those killed will then suffer forever in Hellheim. Soon the survivors will burn down their mosques and begin sacrficing to Odin to stop the attacks. Then it will be time to deal with the Christians. Eventually Ásatrú will dominate the world.

Re:Avrocar anyone? (1)

Phoghat (1288088) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907571)

Personally, as a follower of Chulthu and the ancient ones I declare holy war on Asatru

Sigh (5, Informative)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 5 years ago | (#28902809)

I see a lot of these sorts of start-ups - people who design a VTOL UAV using some fancy lift generation device. Entecho entecho.com.au immediately springs to mind (if only because a friend works there). What these people aren't getting is that the problem with VTOL UAVs isn't the form of the lift production, it's the energy density of its power source. Think about it, the power needed to lift a mass is inversely proportional to the square root of the rotor area - that is, the more area, the less power. Things like this use a much smaller area to accelerate air than an equivalently sized helicopter rotor. Yes, they can bump into things, but their flight time will be slashed.

It's hard to make a more efficient rotor, and it's hard to make a duct light weight at large enough sizes to compete on power. So, unless I'm missing something these guys are using the same petrol/kerosine/lipo power sources as everyone else, except with higher power consumption. It's the same problem quadrotors and jet VTOLs have - they simply can't compete with helicopters on hover efficiency.

That's bad news for startups, though, because the helicopter space is already crowded with heavy hitters like Sikorski and the like.

Where does this leave UAVs? It leaves us with incremental improvements (my PhD involved making freaky aeroelastic UAV rotors that were fiercly optimised for the hover regime, just to squeeze out more flight time) with no real long-term flight performance in sight.

Why do these start-ups appear and disappear so quickly? Because they're trying to 'solve' a hard laws-of-physics style problem that isn't bounded by UAV technology, but rather power technology.

YIAAUHETYVM (Yes I Am A UAV Helicopter Engineer, Thank You Very Much)

Re:Sigh (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903009)

Remember Steorn [steorn.com] ? Looks like they're still in business, but they haven't file many news blurbs lately. In July they made some kind of stink about their independent testing process being "insanely great" (Steve Jobism by me, not them), but not a whole lot since they started in 2006.

Re:Sigh (2, Interesting)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903087)

Ah. I see that I got caught up in Steorn's doublespeak. If you read the wikipedia article on the company what actually happened was that they finally showed the technology to some independent scientists who were completely unimpressed with what they were shown. In other words; Orbo does not work.

Re:Sigh (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903343)

Quick question you're probably more qualified to answer than most: If CPU speed were no object (and I really mean infinite speed), would it be fairly trivial to simulate the trillions of air particles, and craft materials to design the optimal blade mechanism and craft design for lifting efficiency?

In other words, do we know everything about how air interacts with itself and other (solid) objects? And it's just running the simulation which is the bottleneck (too slow on current CPUs)?

Re:Sigh (4, Interesting)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903565)

Yes and no. We understand a lot about how fluids work in idealised cases. We know a lot about how individual molecules of air work. We know a lot about how turbulent flow works on a probablistic scale.

What we don't know well is how to estimate unsteady fluid flows with no a priori global knowledge of fluid conditions (same problem the climate modelers have on a much smaller scale). If we knew where every molecule was, how much energy it had and what the forces acting on them were at initial conditions I think we could do a pretty decent job working out what blade profile would work best for that condition; but it's a trick question because conditions can change dramatically across the flight envelope of a helicopter.

As I understand it, aerodynamics design these days is mostly simulation anyway. Blade design is still an art as much of a science, requiring careful consideration of trade-offs involved. I do not believe we're going to see any revolutionary performance gains until a truly novel lift device is invented (ie. something that doesn't use air as a working fluid).

Re:Sigh (1)

Noose For A Neck (610324) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903585)

Yes, but your assumption (CPU speed is no object) is ridiculous.

Re:Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28903807)

No and Yes.

Technically, we don't have real good quantitative models for that level of simulation, but that's only because we can't do it. If we had infinite CPU speed, though, we'd develop good models damn quick, and then we'd be able to.

Re:Sigh (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904253)

But I'm thinking we wouldn't need to develop specialized models because we would just do everything through utter brute force simulation. Providing we know how air behaves.

Re:Sigh (1)

skyride (1436439) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904473)

On a side note, I do love how this post was massively bashed by people taking it entirely out of context. That post had actually nothing at all to do with computer science, all he was asking was simply: is the limit of accuracy for calculating such things the speed of our calculators or the data we have to put into them.

Mod +1 fail at most commenters on this

Re:Sigh (1)

famebait (450028) | more than 5 years ago | (#28908807)

If on the other hand you had infinite time and money, you could use genetic algorithmns, rapid prototyping, and a whole lot of robotics to do thousands of real-life tests until you have a close-to unbeatable design. Might take a year or two, dpending on the parrallellism, but hey, how cool would it be?

I do agree simulating in stead of prototyping would be nicer, but if we don't know if the sim is correct... :-)

Re:Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28903779)

Interesting thought (from an aero engineer, but not involved with UAVs or VTOL): Seems like there's some room for STOL designs, like the "Custer channel" and such. Or are these deemed non-useful for UAVs, because of no true hover?

Re:Sigh (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 5 years ago | (#28905025)

Actually, slow flight and STOL are still pretty useful - the question is more one of 'how efficient are they?'. A slow, efficient soar is quite a common strategy for long-term loitering UAVs. I suspect, though, that STOL UAVs don't have much endurance in their takeoff and landing configs. The primary benefit of STOL is that you can take off from short strips (like carriers) rather than being able to stay on top of one spot for long periods of time. However, since UAVs tend to be small, they don't have trouble finding a place to land. Global Hawk and stuff like Buran are notable exceptions. :)

Re:Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28905131)

My understanding is while the efficiency of smaller fans is an issue, the main problem is stability without using swash plates.

Re:Sigh (1)

savuporo (658486) | more than 5 years ago | (#28907141)

Well, all you are saying is true, but this doesnt mean these devices wont have applications http://urbanaero.com/Frame-whatsnew.htm [urbanaero.com] Perfect craft for med evac duties. It provides capabilities that regular helicopters just cant do. Short flight time is just one constraint that they'll accept for these mission profiles.

Re:Sigh (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 5 years ago | (#28913199)

I'm curious as to what this does that a Robinson can't. If your reply includes "operate in closely spaced urban canyons" then my immediate responses is to call bullshit on it - the problems of operating in enclosed spaces is aerodynamic, not the safety of spinning blades.

With such small rotors the X-hawk will be recirculating its wake like nobody's business - that means more and more power has to be put into the thing to get off the ground. This is why you never try to fly a helicopter down into enclosed spaces (like cities streets or natural canyons) and instead always use a winch.

Unless they're doing something different that isn't immediately obvious from the 15-second glance I gave their page, I'm not buying it. It seems like lots of people in suits -are- buying it, but I suspect it has more to do with the way it looks like a 1950's era vision of a flying car, rather than any serious consideration of its technical merits. It's just another investment sink, like the Moller 400.

That looks fun... (1)

DreamsAreOkToo (1414963) | more than 5 years ago | (#28902883)

If nothing else, maybe they can appeal to the RC hobby community.

Oh! (2, Funny)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 5 years ago | (#28902897)

It's only a model [youtube.com] .

Re:Oh! (2, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28902943)

Shh

Re:Oh! (1)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 5 years ago | (#28908831)

Ni!

I for one welcome (1)

LuxMaker (996734) | more than 5 years ago | (#28902903)

Let me be the first to say, I for one welcome our new flying saucer overlords. =P

Mental Burp (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903065)

Some title - quick parsing of it threw up an uncaught exception in the brain.

Re:Mental Burp (1)

I cant believe its n (1103137) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903229)

YACC?

Re:Mental Burp (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904099)

ANTLR. Catching up with the age, you know.

So what? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28903145)

How does this differ from the Moller Aerobot?

Echo from 2007 (4, Insightful)

codegen (103601) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903163)

Looks a lot like:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-447317/The-flying-saucer-snapped-US-army.html;jsessionid=646AE8D297BA42F4A5BDDD6223D5FA58 [dailymail.co.uk]
from the slashdot story back in 2007:
http://science.slashdot.org/story/07/04/09/1723218/Combined-Hovercraft-and-Helicopter?art_pos=4 [slashdot.org]
In fact, the 'first' prototype looks like the prototype from 2007 (even the same yellow body!!)

Fake (1)

Moldiver (1343577) | more than 5 years ago | (#28903219)

Hell does this video cry out loud *fake*. And even bad fake. The composing sucks. Guess every beginner at composing could do better work.

Wait a minute... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28903329)

I thought Aesir corporation was busy making and distributing Valkyr...

Surrender, Dorothy (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28903489)

Alright, Ahmadinejad. Give up the nukes, or we send in the Flying Roombas of Death to clean house.

Already got one.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28903605)

I've got one of these. Made in china RC flying saucer type thing. Okay it's smaller and the shell is made of polystyrene, but apart from lack of steering it doesn't seem much different to me?

Smells like a VC scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28903845)

Frequent get rich quick scheme: seek millions in venture capital funding for a new product based on secret technology (vaporware), pay onesself handsomely for as long as possible while trying to appear like you're ALMOST ready to disclose the new technology and release a product.

Nazi flying saucer program? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28904029)

Search for "Nazi flying saucer" brings up many hits to an alleged WWII research program claiming that NASA was created by ex-Nazi Scientists. Do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do!

I know who it is? (2, Funny)

IonOtter (629215) | more than 5 years ago | (#28904863)

Aesir doesn't appear to have any paying customers yet â" and is reportedly bankrolled by a single investor.

John Bigboote
CEO/CFO Yoyodyne Corporation Intl
1938 Yoyodyne Way, Lot 49
San Narciso, CA 92129-3064

buitCh (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28905627)

I sse tuhe same

Max Payne and flying saucers (1)

turthalion (891782) | more than 5 years ago | (#28905863)

My world was a spinning jumble of images, burned into the core of my mind. Valkyr was bad news, sending you sky-high for a psychedelic ride on flying saucers.

Aesir was the darling of the stock market, but I knew the saucer stink would stick to those at the top. I'd pay them a visit, and bring their flying saucer crashing back to earth.

Re:Max Payne and flying saucers (1)

Vastad (1299101) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906139)

Ha! So I wasn't the only one who immediately thought of Max Payne.

I did not however, remember a weirdly appropriate quote from the game. Well done sir.

Re:Max Payne and flying saucers (1)

turthalion (891782) | more than 5 years ago | (#28913257)

> I did not however, remember a weirdly appropriate quote from the game. Well done sir.

Sorry to disappoint, but that was not a remembered quote, but one I invented for the circumstances.

Re:Max Payne and flying saucers (1)

Vastad (1299101) | more than 5 years ago | (#28913979)

Doh! You're spot on with the narrative style.

Flying Bedsteads [no broomsticks] (1)

hughbar (579555) | more than 5 years ago | (#28906667)

Actually, we Brits have been building the world's flying saucers since the 1950s: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Bedstead [wikipedia.org]

There were always rumours about something based on this flying around, near London, in the late 1950s. I remember our neighbours calling us into the garden to watch something that, by then, was distinguishable in deep detail.

The Truth About the Coanda Effect (2, Informative)

thepainguy (1436453) | more than 5 years ago | (#28909137)

The point of the Coanda effect is NOT that the flow speeds up. Rather, and as Wikipedia correctly points out, the point of the Coanda effect is that the flow stays attached to the curved surface, which allows you to redirect it...

The CoandÄf effect is the tendency of a fluid jet to stay attached to an adjacent curved surface of a specific radius. The principle was named after Romanian aerodynamics pioneer Henri CoandÄf, who was the first to recognize the practical application of the phenomenon in aircraft development.

FYI, the Coanda effect is what makes leafless gutter systems work. It allows the water to turn the corner and enter the gutter while the leaves shoot over the side.

QSRA - Quiet STOL Research Aircraft (1)

thepainguy (1436453) | more than 5 years ago | (#28909185)

Here's a link to a YouTube video that shows a STOL (Short TakeOff and Landing) aicraft called the QSRA that could takeoff from and land on an aircraft carrier without the use of arresting gear and catapults through the use of the Coanda effect.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_eDutgh4IU

A lot of problems with this design (1)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 5 years ago | (#28911685)

I've seen some RC Coanda models before. The concept is very interesting, but unfortunately any attempted design based on the principle runs into a lot of problems. The main issue I've seen with the RC models is slow turning, and very steep listing to either side on turns.

I know virtually nothing about aeronautics, but I've only just finished reading about how apparently this idea was studied for close to 20 years by people who are experts, and in the end they couldn't produce a working craft out of it. That tells me that there are obviously some almost intractable problems.

Comic Book Ads (1)

JeanCroix (99825) | more than 5 years ago | (#28917781)

I've wanted one of these things since the 1970s, but I could never sell quite enough subscriptions to Grit magazine or American Seed packets to earn one.
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