Hawking mats are an outdated means of EM transportation. They are simple-looking, rug-like devices reminiscent of the mythical flying carpets of pre-Hegira Earth lore.
The Hawking mat was created by Vladimir Sholokov, and Old Earth emigrant, master lepidopterist, and EM systems engineer. Sholokov created the mat as a gift for his young niece on New Earth with the hope to win her affection. The niece, however, spurned the gift, and over the centuries the Hawking mat, as a mode of transport, became largely a novelty which was banned on most Hegemony worlds, due to being dangerous to handle, a waste of shielded monofilaments, and almost impossible to deal with in controlled airspace. A few colony worlds still openly accept Hawking mats, including Maui-Covenant where Hawking mats hold cultural significance with relation to the legend of Merin and Siri.
Hawking mats are controlled by touching flight threads in a particular manner. Hawking mats can also be programmed to follow certain routes or headings precisely, and presumably, the mat has either a guidance display or morphing thread pattern to inform the user of the input program or direction.
The particular Hawking mat that was used throughout much of the stories is said to have been the very same Hawking mat originally gifted by Sholokov to his niece, which, after centuries it fell into neglect, was eventually sold to Mike Osho at a marketplace on Garden for 30 marks, and after Mike's death, ownership of the mat was conveyed to Merin Aspic.
The mat was later used by the Consul, Raul Endymion , Aenea and A. Bettik. At one point, the mat was shot at by flechette pistol, and the temporarily rescued passenger, Lieutenant Belius, was killed while on-board.
Most hawking mats have simple containment field for keeping its passengers on and reducing the effect of high winds, and a top speed of around 26km/h, however, the Hawking mat used by Raul had been modified by Ouster technology and was capable of flight in excess of 300km/h, and could retain a standard charge for up to 1000 hours of use. It was also shown that the containment field was sufficient to sustain some atmosphere in the vacuum of space for at least a brief period of time.
As a final gesture of irony, a replica Hawking mat was given to Raul when he was put into the Schrödinger Cat Box to await his execution