Engineers have historically faced two obstacles when designing electric aircraft. Batteries that run the electric motors have been too heavy and not energy-dense enough to provide sufficient power. And the consequences of failure were too high: Running out of power would all but assure a crash landing.
The Space Shuttle Enterprise flew over New York today, piggyback-style, on its way to its retirement at the USS Intrepid Museum. PopPhoto's Dan Bracaglia, who lives in New Jersey, took these lovely photos as the shuttle and its 747 passed up the Hudson.
A list of current entities permitted by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly unmanned aerial vehicles in U.S. airspace says one thing very clearly: if you fear the drones, stay the hell out of Texas. The Washington D.C. area as well, for that matter.
Why drones won't be taking over our wars anytime soon
By C.J. Chivers
Posted 04.23.2012 at 9:50 am 22 Comments
Early in 2008 on the Black Sea coast, a Georgian drone flying over the separatist enclave of Abkhazia transmitted an instantaneous artifact from the age of human flight—the video record of its own destruction by an attacking fighter jet. What happened that day was born of incendiary post-Soviet politics. The Kremlin backed Abkhazia and was furious that Georgia had bought surveillance drones to watch over the disputed ground. Georgia’s young government flaunted its new fleet, bullhorning to diplomats and to journalists like me what the drones were documenting of Russia’s buildup to war.
By Ryan Bradley
Posted 04.20.2012 at 10:25 am 20 Comments
At London’s Heathrow, which moves more international passengers than any other airport, the fuel jockeys of the Aircraft Service International Group oversee refueling. Filling an Airbus A380 can take two hours, at a rate of about 1,000 gallons per minute.
Some people golf. James Price tiners with the full-blown flight simulator he’s been building in the nose of a Boeing 737 jetliner in his garage for the past two decades. The air traffic controller and aviation enthusiast is now one of only a few people in the world who have built this kind of flight sim in an actual aircraft nose. And he’s among only a handful of people in the world with a toy this cool.
It’s tough being a pirate these days. Facing off with Navy SEALs and missile cruisers on their home turf of the high seas is tough enough for small-arms wielding pirates in diminutive watercraft. Now, the Navy is bringing in the robots. The Office of Naval Research has plans to imbue its Fire Scout unmanned, ship-launched helicopters with electronic brains capable of identifying the small boats generally used by pirates.
The biggest attraction at this year’s New York International Auto Show isn’t an automobile at all. Technically, it’s a "roadable aircraft." Sometimes it’s called a street-legal airplane. Whatever you call it, Terrafugia’s Transition is a vehicle that lives in between strict definitions. And at an otherwise unremarkable showcase of the latest model year automobiles and newest concept cars, the Transition is the star of the show.
Arturo Valdenegro, 12-year-old Tucson resident, made paper aviators everywhere look minuscule by comparison last week. In the skies over the Sonora desert in Arizona, the Pima Air & Space Museum launched the biggest paper airplane ever constructed--a paper airplane based on Valdenegro’s design--into the sky, accelerating it to speeds topping 100 miles per hour before it came crashing down (as paper airplanes do).
It’s the kind of tech startup that we could really get excited about if we weren’t fairly certain it’s some kind of hoax. A Web site has popped up at TacoCopter.com that offers a unique service: tacos airlifted directly to your doorstep via unmanned quadcopter drone. The rise of the machines never sounded so scrumptious.
On a Dutch TV show named, with utter Dutchness, De Wereld Draait Door, the man previously known as Jarno Smeets--of the Human Bird Wing video, in which he flies under mostly his own power--confessed to faking the whole thing. Dude's name isn't even Jarno Smeets! It's Floris Kaayk, and he's a "CGI artist" with degrees in animation. Apparently the video was part of a documentary, the subject of which is unclear (but could totally be "how to fool the internet with an obviously fake video"). [via @mpoppel
Jarno Smeets has been working for several months on his Human Bird Wings project -- assembling long nylon wings powered by outrunner motors, rigging up a complicated Android + Arduino + Wii arm-waving control system -- and now -- according to the video he's just published -- they work! Man can fly!
NASA may no longer possess a reusable vehicle for traveling to and from low earth orbit, but the United States Air Force has all but established a permanent presence up there. Maybe you’ve forgotten about the X-37B, the USAF’s pilotless, reusable space plane that’s been in orbit since launching on March 5, 2011, but it’s still up there making laps.
China usually holds its military hand very close to the vest--that, or things “mysteriously” leak that it doesn’t (does) want the world to know about--so we’re left to wonder why the People’s Republic has decided to publish this in the journal Advanced Materials Research. Nonetheless, it’s pretty interesting. Chinese navy researchers have plans for a new submarine hunting scheme that uses ship-launched UAVs running genetic algorithms.
The Missile Defense Agency’s Airborne Laser Test Bed (ALTB) is dead after a long battle with Pentagon budgetary priorities and Congress. ALTB is best remembered for being a far-out directed-energy beam missile defense interceptor that dodged cancellation by the SecDef himself in 2010 by successfully zapping a test missile from the sky, earning it $40 million more and a new lease on life.
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.