Tech from Singularity’s Children: Solid State Aircraft

The ‘Sky-Whales’ and floating buildings in my Singularity’s Children books use the cool futuristic technology of Electro-Hydro-Dynamics. Instead of old-fashioned propellers batting the air with their silly paddles, an Electro-Hydro-Dynamic thruster employs electric fields to move negatively charged air to produce propulsive thrust…

This small demonstrator is claimed to be the first solid-stateheavier-than-air vehicle to successfully demonstrate this technique to fly untethered.

The same techniques can also be used to change the aerodynamics of an object by smoothing the airflow or deliberately ruffling it up to make the vehicle turn without using physical control surfaces. It can also slow the air being ingested by super-, or even hyper-sonic scram-jets, allowing planes to achieve orbital velocities within the atmosphere…

Both Russia (Ayaks) and the US (Aurora) are rumoured to have this tech flying.

I first came across this technology reading and watching videos from the ‘Lifter‘ community, which are cool, but do tend to drift towards the ‘UFO conspiracy theory’ end of the intellectual spectrum

Full video of the first flight:


Also interesting:

Techcrunch Article here:

Tech from Singularity’s Children: Magneto-Plasma Propulsion

In my Singularity’s Children books, huge Sky Whales and floating party dirigibles use electrohydrodynamic (EHD) thrusters to generate lift and thrust. I imagine these a silent and ethereal, a near-future alternative to anti-gravity.

The tech is not pure ScFi, there are already ion-drives operating in space, but their use for atmospheric propulsion is still a way off.

A bit of background: Jet engines create thrust by burning vaporized fuel in compressed air. The combustion creates a controlled explosion which drives air out the back generating thrust to push the aircraft forward, while also turning the intake compressor to grab up more air.

Magneto-Plasma thrusters, on the other hand, use electricity to produce an ionized gas (plasma) and accelerate it with electric or magnetic fields up to extreme velocities. They frugally create thrust from a small amount of propellant traveling very fast.

These super-efficient engines are currently confined to vacuum, e.g. station keeping satellites or propelling interplanetary probes, but I was super interested to read that the first atmospheric, air-breathing, magneto-plasma jet engine has been successfully prototyped.

The European Space Agency has just demoed similar technology for operating at the edges of the atmosphere, sucking in and ionizing air rather than carrying propellant.

As I have mentioned before, writing near-future SciFi is a real race against reality!!



Tech from Singularity’s Children—A Quantum Arms Race

In the first books of my Singularities Children series, I take today’s technology and jump it ahead by a decade or two—by book Three we are getting into more hard-core SciFi-tech like artificial consciousness and micro-fusion.

Quantum espionage is a theme that is important to the plot, but it will also become increasingly relevant in the real-world over the next decade. Together with a colleague, I have written a short piece on some new developments on the subject at It’s by no means required reading for the series, but if the topic interests you take a look.