Roger Shawyer Interviewed about the EmDrive: Sees his Invention Transforming Transportation in a Decade

Roger Shawyer, the British inventor of the EmDrive, a exhaust-less thruster, has been interviewed by the IB Times. There is an article, with two videos at this link

Here are some notes I took from watching the interview with Shawyer.

Eric Laithwaite claimed that a gyroscope could be used as a thruster. This got the UK Ministry of Defence interested who wondered if it could be used for missile propulsion. In the 1980’s he thought about it as a means of satellite propulsion. He started his own company where he developed the EmDrive. They developed a prototype that could produce 8 grams of thrust.

There was controversy when New Scientist published an article about the EmDrive in 2006. By 2008 his company was in meetings with the Defense community and at the Pentagon where he met with people from the US Air Force, NASA and DARPA. They then set up a contract with Boeing where they designed, built and tested a flight thruster which gave 18 grams of thrust for a satellite.

Boeing had prepared a license contract, and they were ready to sign, but everything went quiet and nothing has happened on that front.

He then started work on a superconducting thruster which can give more thrust. A UK Aerospace company became interested and also NASA. In 2014 NASA did research on a thruster that produced 10 mg of thrust. He says that the UK Ministry of Defense are interested.

On how it works, Shawyer shows an example of the EmDrive, which is a truncated cone. It has an input port for a microwave signal, and inside the thruster an electromagnetic wave propagates back and forth inside the cone.

He gives an explanation on how the EmDrive works:

“The velocity of propagation at the big end approaches 9/10th of the speed of light, while at the small end it’s about 1/10th of the speed of light, and it’s this difference in propagation velocity that causes a difference in the radiation pressure forces between the big end and the small end. So what you have is this thruster is actually producing a force in this direction [away from the big end] which causes an acceleration in the opposite direction, and this is just a simple example of Newton’s laws. What I would say is that the idea that EmDrive violates the laws of conservation of momentum is itself nonsense. Of course it doesn’t. It wouldn’t work if it did. All that EmDrive is a device for exchanging the momentum of the electromagnetic waves going up and down inside it, with the momentum of the thruster as it accelerates. It’s all actually elementary physics.”

He says that his company is meeting its milestones, and he sees EmDrive technology being used all over the world in the next decade. He thinks he will be able to make personal air vehicles which can land and take off vertically, that can take people anywhere they want to go. He thinks that one big application will be using it to make EmDrive craft that will be able to launch solar satellites to provide clean power to the world.

Roger Shawyer seems to be a fairly grounded, matter-of-fact engineer who seems to enjoy his work and who has big dreams about what it can do. There’s obviously a lot of interest from high powered entities in his work, and it’s really interesting to see ideas and inventions such as the EmDrive take shape.

  • Angry SQUIRREL!!

    The EM drive is exciting but putting a 10 year timeline for creating flying cars on something that currently can’t even push a ball of cotton across a table may be a stretch.

  • Ciaranjay

    This link is an interesting follow on from the Space Studies Institute exotic propulsion workshop at the end of September.

  • radvar

    People keep trying to interpret em-drive thrust in classical Newtonian terms of throwing rocks from the back of a rowboat.

    Shawyer clearly states the effect is dependent on general relativity. I have not yet seen discussion that addresses and refutes this point.

    From Shawyers early paper:

    “This force difference is supported by inspection of the classical Lorentz force equation (reference 1).

    F = q( E + vB)

    If v is replaced with the group velocity vg of the electromagnetic wave, then equation 1 illustrates that if vg1 is greater than vg2, then Fg1 should be expected to be greater than Fg2.

    However as the velocities at each end of the waveguide are significant fractions of the speed of light, a derivation of the force difference equation invokes the difference in velocities and therefore must take account of the special theory of relativity.

    Relativity theory implies that the electromagnetic wave and the waveguide assembly form an open system. Thus the force difference results in a thrust which acts on the waveguide assembly.”

  • NCY

    well for satellite propultion it is pretty much already at a useful stage (if the tests by eagleworks turn out to be as claimed)

  • Monty

    There is a very interesting paper on the second generation EMDrive available here
    Its behind a paywall but i heard there are ways to access it even without subscription for people who love SCIence and HUBbub 😉

  • Buck

    Here is another take on the EM-Drive and the possibility of increasing the level of thrust by several orders of magnitude.

    “The IBT reports that Shawyer is working with an unnamed UK aerospace
    company to develop the second generation EM drive. Shawyer says the new
    device will produce many orders of magnitude more thrust than what any
    of the teams so far have observed.”


  • Rene

    True that, but the point is that new tech takes a very long time to become practical. I have no idea about the veracity of the Em Drive.

  • Rene

    That’s about the right amount of time to develop a practical device. Look at Rossi’s LENR, it is hitting the 7 year mark of development. Someday.

  • Ciaranjay

    I too am very interested in this story.
    I really hope it is true as it could be a real game changer.

    On the plus side he is an accredited engineer who worked for many years for BAE. Of course that does not mean he cannot be a crackpot or scammer.
    Also he has had some patents granted.
    Also the recent NASA study is interesting so long as it can be replicated.

    However, in my view there are various warning signs that do not bode well.
    1. As Chapman says, many years gone by and still no concrete evidence from Shawyer. Although to be fair inventions can take many years to perfect.
    2. He is operating in secret, with a secret partner, which restrains him from being more open. Where have I heard that before? Actually an article the other day stated that the “secret partner” was Gilo Industries Group.
    3. He has now moved on and is working on a new 2nd generation EmDrive, despite never having demonstrating the original device working to anyone’s satisfaction. This is a red flag for credibility. At least the Cannae drive is to be tested on a satellite next year. If Shawyer had a thruster that could transform the satellite market then why is he now talking about his second generation that can be used in flying cars? He should be making serious money in the satellite market.
    4. If the Wikipeda article is correct then he has lied or misrepresented reviews of his invention. He said that in 2004 he had seven independent, positive reviews from experts, but one of the sources at EADS Astrium denied this and said in fact the theory and experiment were “fatally flawed”.

    Additionally he has touted for investors to provide money so we have a possible motive.
    Of course these are not conclusive but merely points of interest.

    I hope he has something but I think the Woodward effect looks more genuine.
    Here is a guy that is not interested in money and has again spent many years doing solid science to demonstrate an effect that is hard to isolate from background noise and experimental error.

    • bachcole

      “an effect that is hard to isolate from background noise and experimental error.” Such a situation is the playground for that demon Placebo.

      • Zephir

        It does apply only to Shawer’s replicators – Shawyer himself claims much better results, probably due to additional know-how as explained above.

        • bachcole

          If I stand outside and look at the clouds and believe that the clouds are moving from the east to the west, they seem to me to be moving from the east to the west. If I then close my eyes and believe that they are moving from the west to the east, they then seem to me to be moving from the west to the east. This only works for me if the clouds are actually not moving very fast. But this is the minimum reason why we invented science. (And I haven’t mentioned all of the other reasons why placebo may happen, like motivations like greed and prestige.) This is why “objective” is defined as “trans-subjective”. This is why I won’t believe or disbelieve in the EMDrive until such time as we get clear and bias-free confirmation or Shawer flies past me using an utterly silent motor that he says is driven by the EMDrive.

          Shawer (someone other than myself and someone I don’t even know or even heard of in any other context and thus cannot trust) is reporting a phenomena that conflicts with a paradigm that virtually all scientists believe in (including myself, since I think dark energy and matter is probably bunk). But I respect people’s honesty and observations, up to the point as described in my first paragraph. So, I am comfortably 100% uncertain about the EMDrive.

    • Omega Z

      NASA and the Chinese have also witnessed/replicated the effect and are continuing to investigate it.

      That said, if there is no error, it is nothing but an interesting toy to date as the effect is to small to be of use.. It is necessary to see if it can be scaled up and if it can it would/could also rule out errors.

      An Important NOTE:

      That something “might” be an Error is not a scientific reason to discount some phenomenon. Until you prove multiple times something was in error, it is still open to investigation. Sometimes, scientists seem to be the most anti-science.

      • Ciaranjay

        Yes and if you search for it you can see a later paper from the Chinese retracting any finding of significant thrust.
        One of those stories where the internet can butter up an article with “facts” to show it whichever way they want.

        • AlainCo

          Yes I’ve seen their failure tu use a battery on cart setup.

          Nasa EW usesuch a setup and is positive in vaccuum. however they use a VCO instead of a magnetron.
          previous low performance was due to VCO problems not identified.

          I suspect that they don’t underand some key parameter, because of wrong theory, so they don’t make real replication.

          For example in recent patent Shawyer use a polarization trick to measure phase, and drive a PLL…
          at the same time a theoris says that strong polarization may create virtual particles that may transport momentum outside… I’m not conviced but this shows that polarization is an important point, as placement of the input antenna.

  • George Snoga

    There is a possible way to increase the thrust, possibly quite sizeably. If, as claimed, it is based on a differential between lightspeed between the ends (actually the difference between the permissivity/permeability of each end, one could use a coating of very low permittivity/permeability material on the big end, to increase the differential sizeably.

  • Zephir

    The fact you never heard of something is indeed not an argument. Here you can have whole list of EMDrive results compiled

  • Zephir

    For example here: ,

    There are ideas, that the EMDrive also actually works like the asymmetric capacitor, just powered with AC instead of DC

  • Zephir

    /* All that EmDrive is a device for exchanging the momentum of the electromagnetic waves going up and down inside it */

    The most effective device working on this principle would be a photon rocket and there are rather strict constrains of thrust/input power efficiency of such device. So I’m pretty sure, that the EMDrive cannot utilize the momentum of electromagnetic waves only (not to say about fact, that no EM wave is actually leaving the resonator).

    You can imagine the EMDrive like the boat without bottom (bottomless wooden washtub so to say), which is floating at the water surface. We’re not allowed to use the paddles: everything what we can do are the ripples inside the resonator. But these ripples cannot escape
    from it, so how they could contribute to the reactive force?

    The explanation can be just the fact, that every ripple has its scalar density associated with it and this density would be proportional to the wave frequency. The resonator is conical, we can therefore have ripples of different wavelength at both ends of it. In this water surface analogy it’s therefore the underwater sound wave, not the surface ripples what propels the EMDrive forward. We therefore generate mass density gradient (actually artificial gravity field) inside the resonator, which would propel the EMDrive forward.

    • Zephir

      Another theory is bringing more insight in Shawyer device. It proposes, that the photons resonating inside the cavity of EMDrive get polarized by their reflection and they materialize into a stream of subtle invisible particles (dark matter or scalar waves) which can pass the walls of resonator freely and which generate thrust by classical reactive force.

      This theory could explain the inconsistencies, which the replications of EMDrive face. If the photons wouldn’t get polarized with reflection under proper Brewster angle, if the number of photons of opposite spin wouldn’t be equal, if the photons of the opposite spin wouldn’t materialize at one side of resonator in sufficient yield, then the drag
      cannot be actually formed.

      This theory can also explain, why the former attempts for EMDrive replication (Tajmar & all) failed once the researchers connected the EMdrive to a magnetron at random place of resonator through single wide window. If you take a look at the original device of Shawyer you’ll realize, it’s connected to magnetron in much sophisticated way: through a pair of narrow coaxial waveguides, which enter the resonator in exact locations in pinpoint manner. Only the standing waves from such pin-point sources can interfere inside the resonator in defined way. The principle of EMDrive may be therefore more subtle & complex, than it looks at the first sight.

  • Gerard McEk

    I do not see the thrust of this device becoming such that it can be used for flying objects in our atmosphere. I assume it would require large EM powers (and corresponding energies and weights). But I’ll be open minded and see what happens in the next decade. Maybe using LENR power with a million times higher power density than a chemical power source may make this work?
    After all AR seems also to claim some thrust of his QuarkX also.

    • Warthog

      Not with the brute force approach (a la rockets), but a “Rutan” approach.

      I read a science fiction story MANY years ago with a similar premise..a small private company headed by a physicist developed a device eerily similar to the EMdrive. Employee hero (and hero’s “love interest” (who just happens to be a KGB spy)) “borrows” the device and installs it in a surplus DC3 along with a “super-battery” the company is also developing (how’s that for a fortuitous coincidence?). Flies DC3 to maximum “prop driven” altitude, then turns on the pseudo-EMdrive and proceeds to set world altitude record and speed records for “prop-driven” plane.

      With battery running low, and engines frozen, the hero manages to keep the plane up until the engines warm enough to be started. Lands plane in crowd of reporters. KGB spy girlfriend defects (and one assumes later marries hero). Physicist boss gets Nobel.

    • Omega Z

      ->”AR seems also to claim some thrust of his QuarkX also”

      I strongly lean towards this being a misunderstanding in communications between 2 entities neither of which see the confusion. Some think the Quark creates thrust without a propellant and Rossi doesn’t realize that’s what they are thinking.

      Keep in mind Rossi was talking about thrust by way of a jet turbine. The compressor stage of the turbine compresses air which then passes over the Quark becoming superheated and jettisoning out the nozzle..

      Tell people you have a compressed cartridge of CO2, and everyone will understand where the thrust comes from when you puncture it. Tell them you superheated that cartridge 1st and most will understand the great increase in thrust from that same size cartridge.

      Tell people your compressing air in the 1st stage of a turbine and then superheating it doesn’t mentally register the same to them as the CO2 cartridge analogy. We just tend not to consider the air around us as a propellant.

      NOTE: Unless you can reach escape velocity in the lower atmosphere, LENR will not take a Rocket into space unless you include a carry along propellant.

      The Good news is that superheating hydrogen can produce 4 times the thrust as burning it as rocket fuel. No oxygen tank required. Less hydrogen needed and or larger payload capacity.

      A LENR aircraft is the same concept as the nuclear powered aircraft without the radiation and much, much lighter.

      Rossi also recently said that the Quark is much more suited then previous E-cats for this purpose. Simple fact is 1MW made up of 50K little reactors has more surface area for faster and more efficient heat transfer. Results, less power required, smaller engine less weight and back to less power needed and possibly a viable aircraft.

      • Gerard McEk

        I agree with you, that was also my impression at first. Later replies of AR on questions made me doubt again. You know that light is also EM radiation and considering the huge power density of the QuarkX, I do not think it is impossible the it can deliver some thrust as well, if combined with a cone.

  • passerby

    There are hundreds of pages dedicated to replications on nasaspaceflight forums. Much of the focus these days is on the upcoming peer reviewed paper from NASA

  • Omega Z

    I understand(according to rumor) they intend to put an EM Drive in orbit. That would put an end to most questions either way real quick.

    OK. Positive results would create a huge stir and a lot of action over the next 10 years, but results would be minimal. As we know, inventors over optimism is a real thing.

    Due to lackluster advancements, If an EM Drive Rocket isn’t lifting off from NASA within 2 years, It’s obvious that someone rigged the orbital test. Must be a fraud. After 3 years, there must be greed involved. If this is real, the benifits to humanity is huge. We must take over this technology and Kill the inventor. At the very least, a character assassination.

    I must be a whack job. Such a scenario would never happen in the real world. 🙂

  • Ophelia Rump

    In the old paradigm it was said that any sufficiently advanced technology will appear as magic.

    We are in a new paradigm where all our technologies are sufficiently advanced.
    Any unfamiliar technology will appear to be a hoax.

    • Facepalm

      Am I the only one that thinks that Shawyer are trying to scam people?
      Look at this 8 year old video:
      Should be proof that it works, so why have it not been independently tested?

      • Warthog

        Why do you think it hasn’t?? Even the short summary shows that several organizations have tested it, and elsewhere (here I think) indicates peer-reviewed publication at least once.

      • Ophelia Rump

        No, your incredulity is commonplace.

        I simply do not share it. I saw the video of NASA spinning that contraption in their giant vacuum chamber. You can argue over the science and they have been doing that for years, but that is scholarly argument, not an internet chat room.

        • Ciaranjay

          At the end of the day, if science theory says it cannot be done and scholarly argument says it cannot be done but experiment proves it can be done then experiment wins.

      • AlainCo

        it was independently tested.
        by Chinese team.
        by Nasa EW
        -a new paper which I know is enthusiasming will be published soon, and I know there is more)
        by Tajmar

        question is how people interpret the results.

        not negative, positive but to be replicated more…
        after each positive result they say it is no enough replicated…

        behavior is same as for LENR, even if I agree EmDrive is more preliminary (probably a dozen replications vs thousands for LENR).

        • Ciaranjay

          Tajmar found nothing conclusive.
          Chinese have retracted their earlier results.
          What we have is one NASA result that is to be published.
          Hmmm experimental error vs Newton was wrong. I wonder which is more likely?
          Personally I hope the NASA finding holds up and can be replicated successfully.

          • Zephir

            You’re just in the cold fusion forum and the cold fusion has been doubted and dismissed so many times – so why not to learn from this situation? Both Tajmar, both Chinese did use different experimental arrangement than Shawyer, as explained above. Both cold fusion, both EMDrive physics are more complex than just a resonator stuffed with microwaves randomly.

    • Ciaranjay

      That is unfortunate then.
      A magic trick is an entertainer who is fooling or hoaxing us.
      We agree to go along for the entertainment and the puzzle.
      If 21st century inventions are indistinguishable from a magic trick then we are about to be deluged with a lot of hoaxers.
      Bad times for the gullible.