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Japanese Company Performs Country’s First Manned Flying Car Test Flight

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We’re already living in the future in many ways. We have incredible powerful pocket-sized computers, can contact people on the other side of the world in the blink of an eye, and even 3D print physical objects out of thin air (and some plastic filament).

But there’s one thing missing. Flying cars! Everybody knows it’s not really the future until there’s flying cars.

Actually, the future might be fast approaching. A Japanese company tested its flying car concept earlier this week – and it worked.

Well, the thing took off the ground and circled a 2.5-acre Toyota test field for about four minutes. But hey, there was an actual pilot on onboard.

Or is it a driver since it’s supposed to be a flying car? Anyway, moving on…

The vehicle, titled SD-03, is developed by SkyDrive, a Japanese “urban air mobility solutions” firm. The company was founded just two years ago, and has already taken flight with their invention.

“We are extremely excited to have achieved Japan’s first-ever manned flight of a flying car in the two years since we founded SkyDrive in 2018 with the goal of commercializing such aircraft,” SkyDrive CEO Tomohiro Fukuzawa said in an announcement.

“We aim to take our social experiment to the next level in 2023 and to that end we will be accelerating our technological development and our business development.”

The SD-03 is, according to SkyDrive, the world’s smallest electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) vehicle. It’s roughly the size of two parked regular cars, and is powered by eight electric motors attached to its four rotors.

“The use of eight motors is a means of ensuring safety in emergency situations during flight and as such aims to address compliance standards and allay potential regulatory concerns,” the company says.

A human pilot was at the controls during the test flight, but SkyDrive says that a computer-assisted control system helped ensure flight stability and safety.

Of course it did. Even normal, ground-based cars have all kinds of computer-driven gizmos these days. It only makes sense that a flying one would have even more.

“Of the world’s more than 100 flying car projects, only a handful has succeeded with a person on board,” Fukuzawa told Associated Press.

He added that although the SD-03 can at the moment only fly for five to ten minutes, the company is looking to extend that time to 30 minutes. Success in extending the flying life could open export markets in places like China, Fukuzawa hopes.

SkyDrive is of course hopeful about the future of its flying car. If car-sized eVTOLs become commonplace, they could solve many current air traffic issues, the company says.

They would offer faster travel from point A to point B. Additionally, flying cars could remove the need to go stand in line for hours on end at an airport, and they might relieve traffic jams on major roads and in cities.

However, Sanjiv Singh, professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, told AP that flying cars still face many obstacles. The most important ones are battery size, air traffic control, and other infrastructure issues.

“Many things have to happen. If they cost $10 million, no one is going to buy them,” he said. “ If they fly for five minutes, no one is going to buy them.”

That’s a lot of “no one’s”. And Singh is not wrong. There definitely needs to be extensive air traffic rules in place if these things become everyday life.

Careless drivers are already a big enough issue. Imagine them at the helm of a small aircraft, falling out of the sky every few minutes.

But the Japanese government believes in SkyDrive. The company recently received $37 million in funding, the sponsors including the Development Bank of Japan.

The Japanese authorities plan to have flying cars undertaking business services by 2023, and expand to other commercial uses by 2030. In 2018, in fact, the government of Japan enlisted 21 companies – among them Uber, Airbus and Boeing – to make flying cars reality, wrote the Observer.

“The Japanese government will provide appropriate support to help realize the concept of flying cars, such as creation of acceptable rules,” the government said.

Uber in particular is serious about taking to the air. The company has partnered with NASA and invested $23 million into a Parisian research and development center to create Elevate, a flying taxi.

Other companies currently working on flying cars Lilium from Germany, whose alien-looking five-seater plane hit 62 mph speed in 2019, and Wisk, a joint venture between Boeing and Kitty Hawk.

We’re not there quite yet, but slowly and surely the flying cars are getting here. Then we can all finally agree that the future has come.



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Odd

Woman Falls onto Highway While Recording on Snapchat

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  • Yes, you read that right. She was on Snapchat and was so busy trying to record a video that she fell out onto a busy highway.

It turns out the woman didn’t sustain any injuries, so that’s good. But being on Snapchat in the car and falling out because of it, really?

In Surrey England on Saturday, police shared on Twitter that an unnamed person was “hanging out the car whilst filming a Snapchat video.” The car was driving down M25, south of London, when the incident occurred. Police wrote that the passenger, “fell out the car into a live lane.”

“It is only by luck she wasn’t seriously injured or killed,” the Roads Policing Unit added.

They also included a picture of the passenger window where the woman had fallen from with the hashtag “#nowords.”

Users asked police if the woman had been arrested or not and you may be surprised at the answer. According to the Surrey Police, there was “no necessity to arrest.”

“We can’t just arrest people for fun. We have to have a necessity which we did not have for this. We knew who she was, where she lived, there will have been plenty of evidence and no person or property was likely to be at any further risk,” authorities replied.

Even without an arrest, police hope that others will learn from the incident.

“But I suspect not many people are sat there thinking this sort of thing is a good idea and those involved certainly learnt a thing or two that night,” the police added.

When asked if the police ever told passengers of the “errors of their ways,” they responded with, “Every chance they worked it out before we spoke to them about it!” Statistics shows that 259 people around the world died between 2011-2017 while taking selfies.

Just last year a 23-year-old woman was a hit-and-run victim due to flying out a car window after yelling, “Bye, Miami,” From the right rear passenger window. The woman was struck by a Range Rover whose driver did initially stop and pull over, but then left the scene completely.

Come on people. Life>Snapchat.

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Cockroach Farming Becoming Big Business in China

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  • Out of all the animals you could farm… Why this?

You’re walking in pitch-black darkness through the narrow corridors of an industrial-sized hangar. You’re sweaty and nauseated, as the air is thick with intense heat, humidity, and the stench of rotting meat. But the worst thing of it all is that awful, ever-present noise all around you.

It sounds like the pitter-patter of rain, but it’s nothing so wholesome. That terrible sound is the scurrying footfalls of a billion palm-sized cockroaches.

What’s worse is that this is not a scene from the latest Hollywood horror blockbuster. This is the everyday reality of a cockroach farm.

Yes, there are people who farm these revolting pests. In China, cockroach farms are burgeoning business, with an estimated 100 farmers active across the country.

The farm described is managed by a gentleman and professional bug farmer called Yin Diansong. His facility is located in eastern China in Zhangqiubei, near the city of Jinan.

On the map, that’s roughly halfway between Beijing and Shanghai. Just so you know not to go anywhere near the place.

“We have 60 small rooms. There are 20 million cockroaches in each room,” Yin told Australian ABC News.

“In total, there are one billion cockroaches.”

Every day, the farm’s impressively elaborate system of pumps and pipes dumps 50 tons of kitchen waste collected from restaurants onto metal shelves. In case you were wondering where that rotting meat stink we mentioned comes from.

And the roaches eat all of it, down to the last scrap. Every single day.

Are you feeling itchy yet? Because your author here sure as **** is.

I hope you’ll hate looking at this picture as much as I did while uploading it.

Solving Two Problems With One Roach

If you’re anything like me, there will be a single word in your mind right now: “Why?”

Well, there are two reasons, according to the cockroach farming project’s head Li Yanrong. First of all, the whole thing was started as an experiment to deal with food waste.

It makes a particularly twisted kind of sense. Cockroaches will thrive wherever there is decaying food, so feeding the garbage to roaches is a great way to get a whole heck of a lot roaches.

But why, why in the name of all good things on this wretched Earth would you want more cockroaches?

To kill them and grind them up into a fine powder, is why.

Huh. I can definitely get on board with that.

Cockroaches, and bugs in general, are rich in protein. Mixed into animal feed, the roach powder provides a cheap, nutritious, and – unfortunately – practically everlasting feed supplement.

“If we can farm cockroaches on a large scale, we can provide protein that benefits the entire ecological cycle,” explained Li.

“We can replace animal feeds filled with antibiotics and instead supply organic feed, which is good for the animals and the ground soil.”

Although Li readily admits that the roach farm may prove unprofitable in the long run, the business is seeing results. More traditional farm animals – including chickens, duck, goats and pig – of the surrounding area are already subsisting on cockroach protein.

Would they care if they knew what they’re eating? Let’s not find out.

Bad Medicine

But even if the animal feed business were to go bust, Li and Yin may still have a buyer for their roaches. As mentioned, there are about a 100 roach farms in China, and Zhangquibei project is unique in working in using the roaches for feed.

Most of the roach farms instead supply China’s traditional medicine industry. Crushed roaches are said to be useful for healing scars, and traditional healers claim that when drunk in a medicinal concoction they will reduce the size of tumors.

It’s not only in China that people are looking into making something good out of cockroaches, either. Scientists at India’s Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative medicine have found that cockroach milk…

Wait, what? No, please, please no… No, says it right here in New York Post, cockroach milk.

The pacific beetle cockroach is unique among their whole wretched species in that if gives birth to live young. To feed its verminous offspring, the roach lactates “protein-dense crystals, which pack fats, sugars, amino acids, and more than four times the nutrition of cow’s milk”.

“It’s time-released food. They can be a fantastic protein supplement,” said the study’s lead Subramanian Ramaswamy.

Yeah, sure, whatever. Good luck marketing that.

Prison Break: Cockroach Edition

Despite the apparent benefits, cockroach farms aren’t exactly popular. Many of China’s farmers hide their facilities underground or in giant fully-sealed complexes and don’t publically advertise what they’re farming.

These measures are necessary, since the farmers are concerned that public wouldn’t take too kindly to knowing that they’re living next to billions of cockroaches. Go figure.

Maybe the good people are concerned that the roaches might break free. Unfortunately, that’s not an unfounded fear.

In 2013, all hell broke loose in the Dafeng district on China’s eastern coast. A vandal damaged a local cockroach farm, resulting in at least a million of the skittering pests escaping to the surrounding area.

The incident cost the farmer thousands of dollars in damages, not to mention the cleanup operation that officials staged.

To prevent something like this from happening, Li’s farm in Zhangqiubei is surrounded by a water-filled moat. In the water are ravenous fish, ready to devour any roaches attempting to swim for freedom.

That all sounds good, but will it be enough if millions upon millions of roaches suddenly try rushing for freedom? Can the fish eat them all, or will the bugs just run across a bridge of their less lucky brethren?

Let’s hope no one never, ever has to find out.

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Oregon Hires Goats to Combat Wildfires

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  • Don’t believe Smokey Bear’s lies. Goats can stop forest fires, too.

As you’re probably aware of, the US West Coast is kinda-sorta on fire at the moment. The gender reveal parties they’re throwing aren’t really helping, either.

In fact, the gender reveal fire – known officially as the El Dorado fire – has claimed the life of one firefighter, according to Associated Press.

With the blazes spreading and emergency services battling 50-hour shifts, exploding trees, and choking smoke, it’s no wonder the West Coast states are turning unorthodox solutions. Any solutions, as long as they work.

They’re so desperate that even to local fauna is being called upon to help. In Oregon, firefighters are going to be getting some baah-dly needed aid.

A herd of 230 goats has arrived in the city of Forest Grove, 25 miles from Portland. Over the next week, they will be eating the dry undergrowth in a 140-acre wood as a wildfire prevention measure, wrote Oregon Public Broadcasting.

It might sound a bit off, but using sheep and goats is a fairly well-established firefighting method. Excess of dry vegetation is often one of the primary sources of fuel that ends up feeding wildfires.

Feeding that brush to the goats instead of the fire could make the difference between an area getting slightly scorched and turning into an inferno.

Seems like a good chance to quote an old saying – it’s not dumb if it works.

Is he working or on a lunch break?

A Man and His Goats

The owner of the goat herd is a fellow by the name of Craig Madsen. He runs Healing Hooves, a Washington-based landscaping service relying on ungulate power.

Madsen used to be a federal office worker, but 18 years ago he was bitten by the goat bug. Well, maybe not literally, but he decided to quit his job and become a full-time shepherd.

In the summer months, he packs his herd into a trailer and drives around the northwest. He sells his goaty services at the request of public officials and private landowners.

It takes about two and a half minutes to get the entire herd out of Madsen’s trailer. Local onlookers have likened the scene to unpacking a clown car.

“I get a lot of requests from people who want [my goats] to do their backyards,” Madsen told OPB, explaining his business practices.

“And I say: ‘I don’t do those, because I can’t put 230 goats in your backyard.’ But there are people who’ll have a dozen or so goats. They’ll come out and do those projects.”

When he’s out on a gig, Madsen lives out of the back of his truck. While the goats chew on grass, his primary duty is putting up an electric fence to keep the herd where it’s supposed to be.

According to Madsen, the fence is needed because his animals can get mischievous. Goats live climbing, and sometimes the closest climbable thing might be someone’s brand new BMW or something.

Madsen also has two other employees – Irish wolf hound Gigi and Nessie, a miscellaneous herding dog. Gigi is the security officer who keeps coyotes and even cougars away, while Nessie is in charge of moving the goats in and out of the trailer in an orderly fashion.

Natural Solutions

According to the Healing Hooves website, the goats provide many other benefits in addition to cost savings. First of all, rough or rocky ground doesn’t deter them, and the goats happily munch away on plants that are harmful to humans, such as poison ivy.

The goats help protect both crews and local residents since they reduce the need to use toxic herbicide and potentially dangerous heavy machineries. Not only that, they often get rid of unwanted plants more effectively.

Some plants’ seed producing parts might escape lawn mower and weed whacker blades. The goats, on the other hand, will consume the plants down to ground level at the speed of roughly an acre per day.

“Goats will open up blackberry thickets, knock back scotch broom and eat a variety of other weeds. When the goats are done the area will not look mowed but they will have a significant impact,” Healing Hooves says.

A Goat-load of Fun

Last, but not least, the goats have a hidden bonus: they’re entertaining.

“They’re fun to watch. Your crew and your family will love watching the herd at work (to them, it’s play) and hearing their gentle bleats as they call to each other,” the company says.

Madsen’s firm is not exaggerating. In Forest Grove, he has been shower facilities and lodging by locals who know and love his goats.

Madsen, however, usually turns down the offers, though he might pop by occasionally to wash up. His work gets lonely, sometimes, but he likes to spend his time reading in the company of his dogs.

Once his goats are done in Forest Grove, Madsen will head over to Spokane.

“I’ll be doing some work in the city of Spokane, and the primary purpose is to reduce fuel loads. And second is to try and manage noxious weeds,” he said.

Mr. Madsen, we thank you and your goats for your service.

Want to tell your strange story? Tell us about it and it could be featured on Oddee. You can remain fully anonymous.



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