We deeply regret to announce that Geo Robson died in a BASE jumping accident while on holiday in his home country of South Africa on 12 April 2010.
Geo was able to combine his passion for flying with that for science, mathematics, and research; he was an extremely rare combination of adventurer, pioneer, and a scholar. A funny, personable and caring colleague and friend, Geo is sorely missed by all of us who knew and worked with him.
One of Geo's favourite destinations in Switzerland was Lauterbrunnen — not just for BASE jumping, but also to spend time with friends, and to “work” (as he would say) on his research. Lauterbrunnen was essentially Geo's second office, and the place where enjoyed most of his spare time. We thought it fitting that it also be the place where we remember him, and have commissioned the town of Lauterbrunnen to engrave a bench in Geo's honour. Geo's bench will be ready in the spring of 2011. For maps and directions, click here.
Human flight has been an incredible driving force for human innovation. From early epics like the story of Icarus, to Leonardo da Vinci’s designs of hang gliders and helicopters, and from the Wright brothers’ first planes to our first trip to the moon, human flight has accompanied and inspired us throughout much of our scientific and technological history. The field has made spectacular advances since its inception and now permeates modern systems of everyday life, from aerial photography to air ambulances and commercial air travel. For many of us, however, human flight has now become a necessity rather than a source of inspiration, evoking visions of crowded cabins with cramped seating and tiny windows.
This project connects in spirit and ambition to the man-on-the-moon type projects on human flight that have so successfully fuelled human inventiveness and innovation in the past: unconstrained human flight. By building on existing wingsuit technology and by leveraging research on lightweight structures and propulsion systems, non-equilibrium aerodynamics, novel sensors and actuators, and algorithmic methods for the control of highly dynamic systems, we seek to create an actuated wingsuit that can be actively controlled by the flyer, allowing individuals to take off and land at will, to gain altitude, even to perch, while preserving the intimacy of wingsuit flight.