A 50,000-volt stun gun and liquid propane canister lets the flames fly
By Gregory MonePosted 08.28.2012 at 10:58 am 12 Comments
Richard Hamel was watching the 2010 animated film How to Train Your Dragon with his grandchildren when he noticed something odd about the tails of the flying beasts. Hamel, a longtime radio-control plane builder, realized that those appendages resembled an unconventional aircraft design feature known as an inverted V-tail. In lieu of a vertical stabilizer and horizontal rudder, some aircraft rely on two fins arranged in a V shape.
Future tech doesn't always look the way the '70s might've predicted, but sometimes it does. Case in point: this beautiful, fully functional hoverbike that could've been torn out of our archives. It's going to be a while before you see one zipping down the street, but if the public does get a chance to ride one, the bike is rideable right out of the box--no training required.
The big rockets of our day get all of the fanfare during a launch, but often they're accompanied by tiny stowaways known as CubeSats, which hitch a ride and drop into orbit. They're convenient and able to get us into space cheaply, roughly the size of a Rubik's Cube and weigh only three pounds.
Drones are learning the difference between a car and a tree--and how to make their next moves
By Andrew RosenblumPosted 08.14.2012 at 10:14 am 5 Comments
Self-piloted drones have become sophisticated enough to land on moving aircraft carriers, but put a single unexpected tree in the way, and they will crash. Now a five-university group that includes specialists in biology, computer vision and robotics is trying to teach drones to dodge obstacles on the fly. Working with $7.5 million from the Office of Naval Research, the scientists aim to build an autonomous, fixed-wing surveillance drone that can navigate through an unfamiliar city or forest at 35 miles an hour.
On a clear day early next year, an unmanned aircraft painted in the dark gull gray of a Navy fighter jet will take off from a runway at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland, bank over the Chesapeake Bay and set a course toward an aircraft carrier, motoring several miles out over the Atlantic. As it approaches the carrier, the craft will open communication with air-traffic control, request landing clearance from the deck officers and establish a glide slope that accounts for wind velocity, ship speed and even the slight rolling of the ship's deck. Pilots consider a carrier landing one of the hardest operations in all of flight. The X-47B will land without any pilot at all.
The dust has settled on the final round of NASA's Commercial Crew integrated Capability program project, and three winners have been given funding for the next round of American-made space taxis: Boeing, who received $460 million; SpaceX with $440 million; and the Sierra Nevada Corporation, with a paltry $212.5. The companies will use it as seed money to create commercial spacecraft that U.S. astronauts will fly aboard.
There was an unusual visitor at the Oshkosh airshow this year: a roadable aircraft manufactured by PlaneDriven. The PD2 takes a Glasair Sportsman amateur-built airplane and adds a separate 50-hp “drive unit” to the rear of the craft to provide ground power. To put the vehicle into drive mode, the pilot folds the wings, starts the drive unit, and away we go.