It's been a long road, one paved with delays (and sometimes sparks), but this week, Boeing's enormous, lightweight, next-generation 787 Dreamliner airplane was officially approved by the FAA and will begin shipping late next month.
For some reason, telepresence--the concept of having your person (in audio and/or video form) represented by some kind of machine while you are physically elsewhere--has lent itself to extreme goofiness. It's not really a goofy idea, and yet we've seen squishy larval phones, shoulder-mounted robots, the Anybots robot (which recently ordered coffee in a Palo Alto shop), and now this blimp-like thing from Sony that projects your face onto what's essentially a motorized balloon.
Rapid prototyping, or 3-D printing, has been used to create all kinds of amazing objects in a variety of media, but a team working under EADS in the UK wants to print something heretofore unheard of: the entire wing of an airliner. Working at the same facility where Concordes were once built, researchers there are already printing landing gear brackets and other aircraft components in hopes that one day they’ll be able to print out many of the critical parts for an entire aircraft.
By Rob Cockerham
Posted 10.28.2010 at 11:59 am 22 Comments
When I was invited to test-fly SenseFly's Swinglet surveillance drone, I was ecstatic. It was an assignment suitable for James Bond: check out a programmable, unmanned platform for taking surreptitious aerial photos.
Under the guidance of the company's representative, I unpacked the drone, programmed it with a spy mission, and sent it aloft to survey the neighborhood. You can learn some very interesting stuff by observing from your own private low-altitude spyplane, it turns out.
An ultralight kit plane designed in the 1970s has become the first four-engined electric plane to take to the skies. Weighing in around 387 pounds -- including the pilot -- the all-electric Cri-Cri flew for seven minutes at Le Bourget airport near Paris last week.
Huge C-130 aircraft from the U.S. Air Force Reserve have joined the fight against the Deepwater Horizon oil slick, which now threatens to ravage the local ecosystems and fishing industry in the Gulf of Mexico.
Skyborne chemical lasers have successfully shown off their potential killing power, and so the Air Force has now turned toward putting a more compact electric laser aboard its aircraft, Aviation Week'sAres Defense Blog reports.
If there were an award for best DIY hybrid hovercraft-airplane, Rudy Heeman would likely take home the prize. Heeman, who has been building hovercraft in his garage as a hobby for years, commandeered a few items from around the house -- a propane bottle from the backyard grill, some electronic implements from his daughter's toys, the odd part from his wife's car -- to create this hovercraft that actually takes to the skies when he pushes it to speeds over 45 miles per hour.
An explosion aboard Flight 253 on Christmas Day would not have crippled the Boeing 747, according to a recent test that simulated the success of would-be bomber Umar Abdulmutallab. Only the bomber and passenger next to him would have died, the BBC reports.
A dozen aspiring pilots at the University of North Dakota can't wait to never get off the ground. Following a shifting military strategy that calls for more and more unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) supporting troops on the ground, U. of ND is offering the first four-year degree for UAV pilots hoping to take the sticks in a field expected to swell to a $20 billion industry over the next decade.
The Eye In The Sky :A Predator drone's camera/sensor ball. Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt/USAF
The use of drone aircraft for surveillance and bombing has transformed how the US wages war -- a fact not lost on our cunning adversaries. Rather than just sit around, waiting for the next Predator missile strike, insurgents in Iraq have devised a way to intercept the video feed from drone sensors, giving them the same view as the drone's operator. And they did it with a $26 piece of software.
It turns out the lumbering Spruce Goose could've learned something from its namesake. Researchers at Stanford suggest that airliners flying in formations akin to the "flying V" employed by migrating geese could trim double digits from fuel consumption and emissions, improving overall range efficiency and saving on fuel costs.
Considering the massive carbon emissions that come from burning jet fuel, air travel is in serious need of a green makeover. To that end, the folks over at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, have been working on a solar-powered plane since 2003. Now, after six years of testing, they have finally managed to get the plane off the ground.
Drones already rule much of the skies over modern day battlefields, and could someday begin ferrying cargo to forward bases and troops. The U.S. Air Force put out a call this week for a fully autonomous unmanned air vehicle that can deliver cargo within a combat radius of 500 nautical miles.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.