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Week’s top reads: Electric robot startup debuts, flying vehicle firm funded

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The TL;DR section could look like this:

  • MagicLab unveils a prototype of its electric bipedal robot capable of somersaulting
  • Vertical Aerospace receives $50 million in funding for its second-generation flying vehicle

MagicLab, a humanoid robotics startup, has revealed a prototype of its electric bipedal robot. The robot is shown performing front flips in a video release, challenging similar moves made by Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot. Potential applications for the robot include search-and-rescue, logistics and transportation, industrial automation, and entertainment. MagicLab aims to teach the robot to perform advanced acrobatic moves in the future, such as single-leg jumps, back flips, and aerial cartwheels.

Vertical Aerospace, an eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) vehicle maker, has secured an additional $50 million in funding for the development of its second-generation flying vehicle. The funding came from Vertical Aerospace founder and CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick. In tests at Cotswold Airport in the UK, the remotely controlled plane powered by a battery-powered propulsion system successfully lifted, hovered, flew, and landed, reaching speeds of 40 mph. Vertical is working with partners such as Honeywell, Rolls Royce, and the UK Civil Aviation Authority, and is aiming for vehicle certification by the end of 2026.

Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk has supported the prediction that there will be one billion humanoid robots on Earth by 2040. Musk agreed with a statement made by David Holz, founder of AI research lab Midjourney, who said there would be a billion humanoid robots on Earth in the 2040s and a hundred billion robots throughout the solar system in the 2060s. This is not the first time Musk has predicted a boom in humanoid robotics, as he previously stated that AI-powered humanoid robots could outnumber humans.

Swiss aviation company Sirius Aviation has announced plans to create a hydrogen-powered VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) jet. Sirius is partnering with BMW Group’s DesignWorks, Sauber Group, Alfleth Engineering AG, and ALD Group to develop two models: the Sirius Business Jet for private travel and the Sirius Millennium Jet for commercial aviation. The company aims to begin production by 2025, pending airworthiness flight testing certification from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Archer Aviation, an eVTOL company, has partnered with NASA to study high-performance batteries for space and advanced air mobility use cases. Through a Space Act Agreement, NASA will test Archer’s battery cell and system design to inform developments in the AAM market. The companies will focus on testing the safety, energy, and power performance capabilities of the battery cells. Archer is currently working on mass manufacturing its electric air taxi and plans to deploy a high-performing battery pack for its Midnight eVTOL air taxi.

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