Some of us might soon be living on artificial floating mega islands

It is one thing to come up with a wacky idea for transforming our cities or constructing the world’s greatest supervillain evil lair; another to have the expertise and inclination to actually research and build one for real. A new research project coming out of the Netherlands quite handily ticks both boxes. Developed by researchers at the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN), their idea is to develop giant artificial islands like today’s floating docks — only on a much, much bigger scale. Like, several miles wide bigger.

And they may just pull it off, too.

“With the world’s increasing population there is not necessarily enough space in the cities, or close to the coast where a lot of people live and work,” Olaf Waals, project manager and the concept developer, told Digital Trends. “These are also areas that are susceptible to flooding with rising sea levels. We thought it was an interesting idea to look at the technical feasibility of building floating mega islands. There are lots of futuristic concepts out there for floating harbors, farms, or cities. We wanted to look at how realistic a proposition this actually is, and come up with a workable concept.”

Waals’ idea involves modular giant triangles which lock together to form sizeable land masses, up to 3.1 miles in width. At least in theory, it is a pretty nifty idea. Given that 70 percent of our planet is covered by water, floating mega islands offer a whole lot more space to play with. They could be used for housing and recreation, or for the generation and storage of sustainable energy technologies like offshore wind farms, tidal energy, and floating solar panels, or for floating farms for breeding fish and seaweed.

Right now, the MARIN team is busy running computer simulations and testing a physical scale model to try and better understand the environmental conditions such a mega island would have to contend with. These potential challenges involve working out how to develop structures that are strong and safe enough to withstand winds and currents; how best to connect them together and to the seabed; and the environmental impact a water-bound floating community would have on its surroundings.

With a consortium of around 20 companies and research institutes now attached, work on the project is set to continue for the next three years. And after that? Our childhood dream of a real-life Waterworld hopefully becomes a reality.

Is it too early to start an online petition to get Kevin Costner appointed as mayor of the first floating mega city? We think not!

Emerging Tech

Researchers create a flying wireless platform using bumblebees

Researchers at the University of Washington have come up with a novel way to create a wireless platform: using bumblebees. As mechanical drones' batteries run out too fast, the team made use of a biology-based solution using living insects.
Smart Home

Deck the halls -- and the rest of your house -- with the best holiday lights

The best holiday lights today are smart, long-lasting, easily programmed, and available in many different colors and modes. We've collected some of the best Christmas lights at a variety of price points for you to check out!
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to endangered cats

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Emerging Tech

Bright ‘hyperactive’ comet should be visible in the sky this weekend

An unusual green comet, 46P/Wirtanen, will be visible in the night sky this month as it makes its closest approach to Earth in 20 years. It may even be possible to see the comet without a telescope.
Emerging Tech

Gorgeous images show storms and cloud formations in the atmosphere of Jupiter

NASA's Juno mission arrived at Jupiter in 2016 and has been collecting data since then. NASA has shared an update on the progress of the mission as it reaches its halfway point, releasing stunning images of the planet as seen from orbit.
Emerging Tech

Meet the MIT scientist who’s growing semi-sentient cyborg houseplants

Elowan is a cybernetic plant that can respond to its surroundings. Tethered by a few wires and silver electrodes, the plant-robot hybrid can move in response to bioelectrochemical signals that reflect the plant’s light demands.
Emerging Tech

Beautiful image of young planets sheds new light on planet formation

Researchers examining protoplanetary disks -- the belts of dust that eventually form planets -- have shared fascinating images of the planets from their survey, showing the various stages of planet formation.
Emerging Tech

Delivery robot goes up in flames while out and about in California

A small meal-delivery robot suddenly caught fire in Berkeley, California, on Friday. The blaze was quickly tackled and no one was hurt, but the incident is nevertheless a troubling one for the fledgling robot delivery industry.
Emerging Tech

High-tech dancing robot turns out to be a guy in a costume

A Russian TV audience was impressed recently by an adult-sized "robot" that could dance and talk. But when some people began pointing out that its actions were a bit odd, the truth emerged ... it was a fella in a robot suit.
Emerging Tech

MIT’s smart capsule could be used to release drugs in response to a fever

Researchers have developed a 3D-printed capsule which can monitor patients' vital signs, transmit this information to a connected device, and release drugs in response to symptoms.
Emerging Tech

‘Crop duster’ robot is helping reseed the Great Barrier Reef with coral

In a world first, an undersea robot has delivered microscopic coral larvae to the Great Barrier Reef. Meet Larvalbot: the robot "crop duster" which dispenses coral babies on troubled reefs.
Emerging Tech

Self-driving dirt rally vehicle offers crash course in autonomous car safety

Georgia Tech's AutoRally initiative pushes self-driving cars to their limit by getting scaled-down autonomous vehicles to drive really, really fast and aggressively on dirt roads. Here's why.
Features

Cities looking to get smart take a lesson from an iconic shopping mall

From Disney World to the Mall of America, public venues are becoming microcosms for smart city projects. We dove into both, to show what government officials can learn – and what you can expect from your city.