That's not the end of hush-hush inventions. Each year, the Pentagon sets aside billions of dollars to develop top-secret military weapons. This black budget has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks, surpassing even the funds spent at the height of the Cold War. Some of that money has gone toward the development of nano air vehicles (NAVs), remote-controlled micro-drones that could easily infiltrate enemy territory. We all know how the U.S. military has used larger drones to conduct reconnaissance, transport supplies and even target individuals. Unfortunately, the larger attack drones, such as the MQ-1 Predator, can result in unwanted civilian casualties.
The Art of War
A NAV will be a lot smaller than the EMT Aladin airborne reconnaissance drone this German soldier is using for close area imaging during patrol on Oct. 17, 2010, in Afghanistan.
"The Mercedes-Benz BIOME grows in a completely organic environment from seeds sown in a nursery. Out on the road the car emits pure oxygen, and at the end of its lifespan it can be simply composted or used as building material."
It is made from an ultra-light material called BioFibre so that the finished vehicle, though wider than a typical car, only weighs 876 pounds. If you think that sounds too good to be true, then get this: The BIOME isn't assembled. It grows from two seeds -- one that forms the interior and one that forms the exterior. The wheels germinate from four additional seeds placed in the nursery.
Of course, you won't find the BIOME at your local Mercedes-Benz dealer. That's because the far-out design is a vision of the future, a concept car that's decades ahead of its time.
But then again, there is a fine distinction between a Hovercar and a Sports car, so it ought to be compact in its design. It will look comfortable on a Sci-Fi set.
Even VW has been working on a hover car in China.
A company called Holosonics developed the Audio Spotlight system, which uses tiny speakers to focus sound into a very narrow beam. Ultrasonic frequencies are too high for the human ear to hear, but as the sound travels from the Audio Spotlight system's speakers, air distorts the sound and makes it audible. It's perfect for in-store advertising, but you'd have to be standing in the right place to hear it.
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In 2011, a remote-controlled prototype of a jetpack made by a New Zealand company called Martin Aircraft actually demonstrated the ability to reach an altitude of 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) and cruise at 62 miles per hour, and stayed aloft for 30 minutes.
Vernor Vinge, a math professor at San Diego State University, proposed what he calls the singularity -- a time at which computer networks may become self-aware through advanced AI, and interfaces between people and computers help humankind evolve. Biological advancements may become so sophisticated that doctors can even engineer human intelligence. There is a possibility, however, that AI might allow machines to take over the world. There's no guarantee that such a scenario will really happen, and technological limitations may prevent it. Still, the idea that machines might someday decide we're irrelevant and arrange for our destruction is more than a little creepy. In 2008 scientists completed a gigantic machine that they believe will help solve some of the secrets of the universe. Some critics of the project were so afraid of it that they filed a lawsuit to prevent it from being turned on.