Landing airplanes on moving ships is no mean feat, but this will be especially true when the airplanes are unmanned. Along with making decisions, autonomous airplanes will have to heed their human counterparts during aircraft carrier takeoff and landing — but can a robot read and understand arm-waving signals?
Shell is making good on its promise to build the largest object ever to float on water, announcing Friday it would build the Prelude FLNG Project to harvest offshore natural gas fields. The gargantuan ship will suck up the equivalent of 110,000 barrels of oil per day.
To fly the military's baddest, most technologically advanced planes, you once had to have what Tom Wolfe called "that righteous stuff," the willingness to strap yourself to a jet-fuel laden machine and push it to the very limits of its mechanical capabilities. Nowadays, unmanned systems have taken the human danger out of some combat missions, though human pilots remain at the sticks.
But not for long.
The official performance results aren't available yet, but General Atomics confirmed this afternoon that it's next-gen aircraft carrier launch system successfully launched an F/A-18E Super Hornet on Saturday, not with steam but with its new electromagnetic aircraft launch system, or EMALS.
For as long as ships have been around, naval powers have competed for supremacy on the seas. After the steam engine's invention in the 19th century, warship design underwent a major upheaval, culminating in an arms race for the best battleships and cruisers. Some of these ships went on to become famed World War I and II icons. Others never made it past the blueprint stage. You'll find that when it comes to naval warfare, the Popular Sciencearchives favor both the formidable and the funny speculations, as long as they contribute to a bright (Allied) future.
Making U.S. Navy carrier groups and Army bases more self-sufficient and energy-efficient could mean turning to mobile nuclear reactors. The Pentagon's DARPA scientists have put forth the modest proposal of deploying miniature reactors to convert hydrogen and carbon into military jet fuel, as well as providing power, The Register reports.