SpaceX rocket launches from NASA’s moonshot pad

spaceximageee
February 20, 2017

On Sunday, a SpaceX rocket soared from NASA’s long-idled moonshot pad, sending up space station supplies from the exact spot where astronauts embarked on the lunar landings nearly a half-century ago. It was the first flight from NASA’s legendary Launch Complex 39A since the shuttle program ended almost six years ago, and SpaceX’s first liftoff from Florida since a rocket explosion last summer. The crowds at Kennedy Space Center watched…

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Crash testing drones and self-driving cars with an open-source sim

simimageee
February 17, 2017

To let developers crash drones and self-driving cars, Microsoft has released open-source software. Called Aerial Informatics and Robotics Platform, or AirSim for short, the code creates a realistic training environment in which it’s possible to simulate mistakes without real-world consequences. Let’s say you want to teach an aerial robot to tell the difference between a wall and a shadow,” Microsoft says in a blog post. “Chances are, you’d like to…

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Project Loon balloon to beam the internet

balloonimageee
February 17, 2017

An internet-beaming balloon factory spun out of Google believes it can outmaneuver the wind. In doing so, the 4-year-old ‘Project Loon’ says it will be able to bring remote parts of the world online more quickly with a smaller fleet of the balloons than it previously thought. Engineers involved in the eccentric project, a part of the X Lab owned by Google’s corporate parent Alphabet Inc., say they have come…

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Dubai plans for autonomous passenger drones

dubaitaxiimageee
February 16, 2017

Commuters in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, may soon climb aboard automated flying taxis, soaring over busy streets and past the desert city’s gleaming skyscrapers, all — quite literally — at the push of a button. Passenger drones, capable of carrying a single rider and a small suitcase, will begin buzzing above the emirate as early as July, according to the director of the city’s transportation authority, part of…

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Switch to biofuel cuts aviation emissions

cathayimageee
February 8, 2017

Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong flag carrier, will switch to biofuels made from landfill rubbish on select long haul flights, reports said Tuesday, in an effort to cut harmful emissions. Cathay flights to Hong Kong from the US, where the new fuel is produced, will use a combination of conventional jet fuel and biofuels starting in 2019, the South China Morning Post reported. The airline hopes to cut emissions on those…

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Researchers go batty over robotic flight characteristics

batimageee
February 2, 2017

With their unrivaled agility and maneuvering characteristics, achieved by functionally versatile dynamic wing conformations as well as more than forty active and passive joints on the wings, bats have long captured the imaginations of scientists and engineers. However, their wing flexibility and complex wing kinematics pose significant technological challenges for robot modelling, design, and control. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Caltech have developed a self-contained robotic…

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Companies race to create the first flying car

January 30, 2017

Nearly a dozen companies around the globe, including some with deep pockets such as European aircraft maker Airbus, are competing to be the first to develop a new kind of aircraft that will enable commuters to glide above crowded roadways. A few of the aircraft under development are cars with wings that unfold for flight, but most aren’t cars at all. Typically they take off and land vertically like helicopters….

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Space-based tracking systems keeps all planes on the grid

spaceradioimage3
January 30, 2017

No plane would ever have to be off the grid, thanks in part to a reconfigurable radio developed for NASA, under a new space-based tracking system. NASA’s powerful radio communications network allows us to receive data such as pictures of cryovolcanoes on Pluto — or tweets from astronauts aboard the International Space Station. But to send larger quantities of data back and forth faster, NASA engineers wanted higher-frequency radios that…

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Jet engines could run hotter and cleaner with new discovery

alloyimageee
January 18, 2017

Researchers in materials science have found a way to deactivate ‘nano twins’ to improve the high-temperature properties of superalloys that are used in jet engines. The advance could speed the development of powerful and environmentally friendly turbine engines of all sorts, including those used for transportation and power generation. The “nano twins” in question are microscopic defects that grow inside alloys and weaken them, allowing them to deform under heat and…

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Science fiction invisible shield for aircraft being developed

wiredbaeimageee
January 18, 2017

BAE Systems has said it will develop a laser-powered mirage-maker for the military within 50 years. The system, Laser Developed Atmospheric Lens (LDAL), would work by using a ‘high pulsed laser system’ to ionize a specific area of the atmosphere, and use that area to manipulate levels of refraction, reflection or diffraction. Essentially, BAE wants to hand the British military – or anyone that will pay the price and pass…

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