clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Princeton student brings fantasy to life with electric 'magic carpet'

Forget hoverboards and landspeeders -- Princeton grad student Noah Jafferis is bringing one of fiction’s most famous vehicles to life with a 4-inch plastic "magic carpet."

Princeton's Plastic "Magic Carpet"
Princeton's Plastic "Magic Carpet"

Forget hoverboards and landspeeders -- Princeton grad student Noah Jafferis is bringing one of fiction’s most famous vehicles to life with a 4-inch plastic "magic carpet." The tiny transparent strip uses electric current — supplied from outboard batteries via conductive threads — to push pockets of air from the front to the back, pushing it at up to one centimeter per second with what he and his team are calling "ripple power." The strip uses air trapped between itself and the ground, so it’s really more of a hovercraft than a true flying machine, but the implications are huge — imagine a vehicle without any moving parts to break down or get clogged. You won’t be jetting around like Aladdin just yet though: it would take a plastic sheet over 164 feet wide to move a single human with the current implementation. Still, Jafferis estimates speeds of over three feet per second are possible with design improvements, and with an untethered version using solar power already in the works, it may not be long before science turns another piece of fantasy into reality, no genie required. Check out the video below to see ripple power in action.