April 22, 2014

7:32 PM | Watch A Solar Plane Fly Over Milan [Video]
Airplane wings are broad, flat surfaces that almost always face the sky, which means they are ideal mounts for solar panels. Built by Solar Flight, a team of European engineers, the Sunseeker Duo is a two-seater airplane that flies purely by solar power. On December 17, 2013, it completed its first flight powered solely by its own battery. Earlier today, Solar Flight released video of that flight. The airplane has the lithe profile and shape more commonly associated […]

April 18, 2014

2:47 PM | The Week In Drones: Shooting One Down In Montana, The FBI's Robot Missions, And More
Drone On Patrol Azin Haghighi, Fars News Agency Here's a roundup of the week's top drone news, designed to capture the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft. Iran On Patrol Released on Wednesday by Iran's state-run Fars news service as part of a slideshow about border protection, the photo above is notable for the hexarotor drone flying with the patrol. The rest of the equipment is fairly standard for a light patrol, with troops in […]

April 17, 2014

12:00 PM | Survey Reveals What Today's America Thinks The Future Looks Like
A 1910 Vision Of A Future Helicopter This image comes from an excellent series of French postcards made in the ealy 1900s about life in the 21st century. Villemard, via Wikimedia Commons In the next 50 years, Americans think they probably won't ride in driverless cars, that robots flying outside will have made everything worse, and that humans will be nowhere close to colonizing the solar system. Those are some of the conclusions from a Pew Research Center survey of 1,001 […]

April 16, 2014

4:15 PM | Put A Camera On Your Eyeball
Contact Lens On An Eyeball Antonio Calossi via Wikimedia Commons What's cooler than Google Glass? Almost anything, really, but something that is both cooler and smaller and still eyeball-centric is a patent for a camera-containing contact lens, filed by Google in late 2012. The patent was published March 27.  Sensors on the contact lens would detect blinks and respond to commands based on those blinks. The camera sits below the pupil on the contact, so it shouldn't […]

April 14, 2014

9:00 PM | How Hard Is It To Shoot Down A Small Drone? [Video]
Before the Predator attached the name "drone" to an anti-terror war machine, many militaries flew unmanned planes as targets, so that pilots and anti-aircraft gunners could practice shooting moving objects. Target drones are still flown today, both specific target models and ones converted from old jets specifically for this purpose. In the past, targets were generally plane-sized, and militaries used anti-aircraft weapons to shoot them down. A group of hobbyists with a weirdly […]

April 11, 2014

7:30 PM | Transforming Helicopter-Truck Hybrid Makes First Flight
First Flight Of The Black Knight Advanced Tactics Yesterday Advanced Tactics announced the successful first flight of their Black Knight Transformer, a hybrid truck helicopter designed for military missions. In December, the truck completed driving tests.  One of the more modern features of the transformer, besides being a freaking flying truck, is that pilots can fly it either while sitting inside it, or remotely. For this first test, it obtained an altitude of less than 10 […]

April 10, 2014

3:00 PM | This Badger Fits Inside An Osprey
Phantom Badger Boeing's Phantom Badger at the Sea Air Space Exposition 2014 Kelsey D. Atherton Phantom Badger. "Phantom Badger?" Phantom Badger. "Phantom Badger," Phantom Badger, "Phantom Badger." Phantom Badger. At the Navy League's Sea Air Space Exposition this year in National Harbor, Maryland, there was an unusual craft on display next to Boeing's usual display of aircraft. It was a jeep-like thing, both narrower and longer than expected. Dubbed the "Phantom […]

April 09, 2014

9:38 PM | New Document Security Layer Makes It Easier For Government To Keep Secrets
Monday morning in National Harbor, Maryland, Popular Science met with BAE Systems Director of Business Development & Intelligence Security John Murphy to discuss SIBA, a new way of keeping and sharing secrets. Unspoken in the interview, which took place at the Sea Air Space expo, was Chelsea Manning, the former Army private first class responsible for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret documents to Wikileaks, but everything about BAE's new SIBA system seems like it is […]

April 08, 2014

5:30 PM | The Navy Wants To Fire Its Ridiculously Strong Railgun From The Ocean
BAE Railgun Naval Sea Systems Command In 2016, the U.S. Navy is going to test a railgun—a weapon that can repeatedly launch a projectile at more than 5,000 MPH—from a boat. In 2018, they're going to do it again. And in the 2020s, the Navy is going to figure out just what to do with a gun that seemed like science fiction decades ago. Speaking at the Navy League's Sea Air Space exposition in National Harbor, Maryland, Rear Admiral Bryant Fuller told the assembled crowd of […]

April 04, 2014

8:06 PM | The Week In Drones: Rescuing A Puppy, Crashing In South Korea, And More
A Beagle Puppy Looks like this pup won't need a drone to escape his predicament. Diablito63 via Wikimedia Commons Here's a roundup of the week's top drone news, designed to capture the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft. Drone Saves Puppy In January, a drone helped firefighters at a quarry in Stony Creek, Connecticut. After that incident, the fire department acquired its own Phantom Vision drone. Last week, that drone helped save a […]

April 02, 2014

1:00 PM | 3 New Ideas For Finding Lost Planes
Inside view of the Carlos Leder airplane wreck Mike Scalora As the weeks-long search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has demonstrated, the tools currently used to find lost aircraft are badly in need of updating. When an airplane crashes at sea, it can be torn apart and separated across the vastness of the ocean, with currents taking parts one way, wind blowing parts another way, and the sheer depth of the sea swallowing up many more. In addition to finding the airplane itself, […]

March 31, 2014

5:46 PM | Israeli Students Spoof Waze App With Fake Traffic Jam
A Traffic Jam Dan69en via Wikimedia Commons What happens when an app becomes so popular it's basically a public utility? For a school project, Shir Yadid and Meital Ben-Sinai, fourth-year students at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, hacked the incredibly popular Waze GPS map, an Israeli-made smartphone app that provides directions and alerts drivers to traffic and accidents. The students created a virtual traffic jam to show how malicious hackers […]

March 27, 2014

9:32 PM | The Week In Drones: Russia Has A New Prototype, Alaska Bans Drone Hunting, And More
Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska Aurora Borealis over Alaskan Air Force Base Joshua Strang for USAF, via Wikimedia Commons Here's a roundup of the week's top drone news, designed to capture the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft. Alaska Bans Drone-Assisted Hunting Last week, the Alaska Board of Game passed a measure prohibiting hunters from using drones to find game. The underlying principle behind this is one of fairness—drone-aided […]

March 25, 2014

4:31 PM | Narrow-Explosion Missile Tested For Drones
Reaper With Brimstone Missiles Big Safari 2014 via MBDA There are generally three ways to improve an explosive weapon: make the explosion bigger so it's guaranteed to hit the target; improve its precision so that it doesn't hit anything but the target; or shape the explosion so that when it goes off, it travels in a specific direction. Over the past 12 years, as the major war effort of both the United States and the United Kingdom has been fighting […]

March 24, 2014

4:20 PM | Elephant Trunk Robot Learns Like A Child
Bionic Handling Assistant This is a robot that learns like a baby. A terrifying, robotic baby. Festo Four years ago, German engineering firm Festo came up with a concept for a robotic arm. Somewhere between an iron snake, a mechanical claw, and a sci-fi tentacle, the Bionic Handling Assistant is functionally most similar to an elephant's trunk. But what should a robot arm grab? For inspiration about learning what to do with hands, the scientists turned to babies. The arm […]
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