This article first appeared on October 16th, 2011.
A battery-powered magic carpet has had lift-off in the United States, suggesting magic carpet rides could soon become a reality.
With the existing materials, a flying carpet powerful enough to carry a person would need a wingspan of 50 metres.
Princeton University’s miniature prototype – just 10 centimetres long – is made of plastic and driven by waves of electrical current, driving thin pockets of air from the front to the rear.
The device was invented by university graduate Noah Jafferis, whose team has worked on the project for two years, although it’s still not a practical device.
“It has to keep close to the ground because the air is then trapped between the sheet and the ground. As the waves move along the sheet, it basically pumps the air out the back,” he says.
While there’s still plenty of work that needs to be done before the idea gets off the ground, so to speak, it could represent a promising business opportunity for the right entrepreneur.