Two years, 50 graduate students, countless man hours, and mankind’s insatiable need to prove he can defy gravity will all come to a head on Wednesday when a team of University of Maryland Students attempts to fly its human-powered helicopter, Gamera. They won’t be flying very high, but the payoff could be tremendous; hanging in the balance is a world record, an aviation “first,” and a claim to the $250,000 Sikorsky Challenge.
After 159 days on the International Space Station and a 50-minute reentry, NASA commander Scott Kelly and two Russian flight engineers, Oleg Skripochka and Alexander Kaleri, landed with a gentle thud in rural Kazakhstan on March 16. High winds dragged their Soyuz capsule several feet before it came to a rest.
The remote control for these fun devices isn't under the couch
By Caitlin KearneyPosted 04.12.2011 at 2:41 pm 0 Comments
The toy department just got its game on with technology that transforms your smartphone into a remote control. This switch means you'll be able to guide helicopters into smoother swoops and swirls and to play augmented-reality games with friends.
Some 45 million Americans have a ready-made, near-universal remote control in their pockets. We already use smartphones to turn up home stereos, scroll through iTunes playlists, and pause Apple TVs. The devices' built-in radios, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, can also control toys.
Who will build the fastest experimental helicopter?
By Joseph A. BernsteinPosted 01.05.2011 at 10:28 am 16 Comments
The cabin of a helicopter flying faster than 170 knots (196 mph) is a perilous place. Vibrations experienced at such high speeds can quickly exhaust pilots, obscure instrument panels, and knock equipment loose. (Pilots commonly joke about lost dental fillings.) Now two major helicopter manufacturers have independently solved the decades-long engineering problem of increasing speed without sacrificing chopper stability or maneuverability, laying the groundwork for dramatically faster emergency-rescue operations and battlefield resupply missions.
An unmanned Pelican quadrocopter recently broke the endurance record for laser-powered hovering after spending more than 12 hours airborne. That crushes the previous record of six hours of laser-beam-powered flight.
The CSAR DiscRotor, a collaboration between Boeing and DARPA, was approved back in 2008. It's taken two years to get an animated video of the insane retractable-wing heliplane, but all that time and money has clearly been worth it, because this thing looks awesome.
An unmanned aerial surveillance drone is only as good as its power source, and as such many technologies are being considered that could drastically extend the duration of drone missions – for instance, DARPA's Vulture program has helped develop a giant solar plane that, theoretically, could fly for five years straight. But Seattle-based LaserMotive thinks laser power is the answer, and to prove it they recently kept a tiny 22-gram helicopter aloft for hours by beaming power to it via a laser.
We were quite impressed with the Sikorsky X2 prototype when we featured it last year as a Best of What's New pick, but it's looking even better these days. The super-fast, dual-rotor helicopter is still in the prototype stage, but has already broken the rotorcraft speed record of 249 mph by reaching 258 miles per hour last week during a test flight.
Unmanned drones could make searching for lost hikers much cheaper, faster and safer than using helicopters, according to researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah. They are turning drones, best known for their search-and-destroy capabilities, into search-and-rescue vehicles.