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Get Set, Folks, Here Comes Tomorrow

Is everybody ready? The far-out and yet-to-be ideas shown on these pages are the stuff Buck Rogers' dreams were made on—yet some are as close as television was 20 years ago. Kids who read Buck then have grown up and are really flying without wings and setting up housekeeping under the sea. The physicists are neck and neck with the fantasists, and by the time today's kindergarten crowd is in college this will be the face of the world around us

Your own pocket rocket will be smaller and lighter than the back-pack demonstrated here, once new fuels are developed. With it you can fly up mountains to ski down, or leave the office by the window.

The Gadabout flying machine actually is available right now, in Bensen Aircraft's one-man Gyrocopter. It is sold in a do-it-yourself kit for $735. If you put it together right you will have a 250-pound, 72-hp craft that will take you to golf dates up to 100 miles away and bring you back to a landing on your own lawn.

"43 NEAR O PINCH"—coach to back by infrared ray. The system Texas Instruments could set up has the coach speak into a transmitter that converts his voice to interception-proof signals beamed to the quarterback. Helmet devices reconvert the signals and whisper them in his ear—a cinch, when rules permit.

Longest reach into the future is this Grand Prix car of 1984, envisioned for us by the British firm of Rubery, Owen & Co. The car can be foreseen in specific detail (below) though certain vital elements have not yet been invented. "If we had them, we'd be driving the car now," says Rubery, Owen.

The driver reclining chaise-longue fashion will have less to do at combat speed than any driver before him, but he will have to do that with extreme sensitivity; his ultrastreamlined racer will be faster on the straights (perhaps 250 mph) and through the corners than anything we have known. This concept is not casual doodling but a serious projection of trends in the making. Rubery, Owen's Research Director Peter Spear, viewing gas turbines as the logical successor to piston engines, has incorporated two turbines (Nos. 3 and 6, fed by fuel tank at 4), reasoning that two small units rather than one large one would aid streamlining and weight distribution. Engine power is taken hydraulically through a power divider (5) and thence to each of the four wheels. Final propulsion is by small hydrostatic motors, one in each wheel hub. This concept assumes an automatic transmission, supplanting the conventional gearbox, of such sophistication that the driver is in the proper gear for any given road situation. A robust power output on the order of 600 hp necessitates four-wheel drive; conventional rear drive could not deliver power fully. Four-wheel steering (note wheel attitudes above and in bird's-eye view at right) potentially gives better handling than front-wheel steering only, and the time-honored steering wheel is replaced by electronic hand controls (2), one for each hand. Foot pedals in nose of car (1) control acceleration and braking. Unusual width of tires is for increased traction.

The city under the sea is no mythical Atlantis but a practicality scheduled for construction off tiny Beef Island in the Caribbean. It is a hotel that stresses fun in, on and especially under the water. Individual suites (right) are half above and half under the waterline, and long glass passageways wander about near the bottom. Guests can sunbathe in unfiltered sunlight on a topside deck off the lobby, but a dining and cocktail pavilion—to be completed sometime next year—sits on the edge of an undersea coral cliff (foreground). All this is in the very near future, though reservations are not yet being accepted.

Underwater Drag Racing will be a reality when Dimitri Rebikoff's Pegasus, developed for U.S. Navy frogmen, is available commercially. Its top speed is an apparently modest 4 mph, but that is about the maximum a scuba diver can tolerate because of water resistance. Its range, however, is a lengthy 16 miles.

All-out adventurers will climb rocks or go exploring, even underwater, in lightweight suits wired for heat, air-conditioning and shortwave radio. Colored a vivid orange, the garments will have their own built-in oxygen supply.


The Rocket Belt was invented by Bell Aerosystems Company Engineer Wendell F. Moore and is being developed by Bell for use by the U.S. Army in tactical and rescue missions. It was first flown in 1961, and though it is still in the experimental and demonstration stage it now has a range of 850 feet at speeds up to a fairly startling 60 mph and has attained heights of 60 feet. The "belt" actually is a formfitting fiber-glass corset that carries the 125-pound propulsion system. The fuel used is hydrogen peroxide, stored in tanks harnessed to the back.

The Gyrocopter ordinarily requires 300 feet or more for takeoff and about 40 feet for landing, but its inventor, Igor Bensen of Raleigh, N.C., sells an added-power unit for $450 that makes the craft airborne in 100 feet. Another accessory will be available soon that will enable the gyrocopter to hover and thus make vertical takeoffs and landings. The two-blade rotor has a diameter of 20 feet. Maximum speed is 85 mph and cruising speed is 60. To date, nearly 350 gyrocopters have been built, registered and licensed.

The Infrared Communication System is technically feasible today, according to Texas Instruments Incorporated of Dallas. Though the prime advantage of such a system would be a highly selective beam that cannot be monitored or intercepted, the equipment could emit omnidirectional signals as well, which would be useful in sports such as hunting, fishing or boating.

The Grand Prix racing car is probably two decades in the future, but Rubery, Owen & Co. is, in effect, testing its anticipated components right now in the practical laboratory of present-day motor sports competition. Its most highly regarded test tube is the famous Grand Prix BRM racing car.

The Undersea Hotel, designed by William Sigal and Associates of San Juan, P.R. for a group of developers headed by Raymond Burmeister, will cost approximately $3 million to build. It will be prefabricated on land of concrete, glass, aluminum and plastic and then anchored to the necessary underwater foundations. There will be 48 rooms or suites. Wholly submerged areas will be pressurized against the weight of water. Well-marked undersea trails for skin divers will have bubble cabanas at resting points.

The Underwater Drag Racer is really an underwater airplane, with rudder, elevators, propeller and two wing like ailerons that allow it to bank. It is, however, relatively simple to operate. It runs on storage batteries and the top speed of 4 mph is the only speed; to slow down you turn the motor off. A commercial version may be available in 1965.

The Environment Suit (opposite), conceived by Clothing Designer Bob Beach, combines features of the astronauts' space wear and the U.S. Navy exposure suit. The outer fabric consists of a layer of rubber laminated between layers of two-way-stretch Helanca nylon. Another layer of plastic insulating foam contains heating and cooling units, making it an effective temperature stabilizer on Everest—or the Amazon. A layer of Acrilan material protects the skin.