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Aircraft

Amazon's ambitious plans to deliver small parcels by drones just took another little jump towards reality, with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launching a new program to study the use of drones beyond the operator's line of sight. The initiative sees the agency team up with three companies to take drone technology forward, with the ultimate goal of hastening the safe integration of the vehicles into US airspace.

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Drones may have gone mainstream, but it's not everyday that you see an entry to that marketplace from a veteran technologist with a history of popularizing clever little robot vacuum cleaners. Having already built a pair of industry-oriented drones, Roomba co-designer Helen Grainer's startup CyPhy Works has made its first flirt with the consumer space with a moderately priced six-rotor drone that takes flight with a swipe of the smartphone screen.

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In seeking a compromise between helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, engineers in recent years have opted for tilt rotors, but NASA has dusted off and improved on a tilt wing aircraft design that takes off and lands like a helicopter and flies like an airplane. Called the Greased Lightning, or GL-10, the unmanned prototype made a successful vertical takeoff and transition to horizontal flight at Fort A.P. Hill, not far from NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

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Flying a drone can be a nerve-racking experience. No matter how careful you are, there's always a chance that your several-hundred-dollar aircraft could lose a prop, lose power, or otherwise get messed up and come plummeting to the ground. That's why Nashville-based videographer and drone enthusiast Michael Pick developed SmartChutes. Read More
Once Syria's bustling economic center, an unrelenting barrage of artillery fire, gunfights and makeshift bombs have ravaged the city of Aleppo in the last two years. Getting food and medicine to civilians is a nearly impossible task for aid groups, but one thing Aleppo and other suffering communities in northern Syria have in their favor is the close proximity of the Turkish border. So close it is that one former US Air Force cargo pilot believes launching humanitarian drones from inside Turkey is the best chance of getting these people the help they need. Read More
While armed drones like the Predator tend to attract most of the attention when it comes to military use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the unmanned K-MAX helicopter recently demonstrated its ability to evacuate wounded fighters from a hypothetical battlefield. Read More
Small airports are often in a no-win situation. They don't have much traffic because they don't have an adequate tower system, and they don't have an adequate tower system because they don't have much traffic. That could be about to change, with the opening of the world's first remotely operated air-traffic control system in Sweden. Thanks to the Remote Tower Services (RTS) system, the first plane landed last week at Örnsköldsvik Airport, but it was controlled from the LFV Remote Tower Centre 123 km away in Sundsvall. Read More
Your smartphone already has a powerful processor and multiple sensors, so why pay for all those things over again when buying a drone? That's the thinking behind the PhoneDrone, which utilizes its user's smartphone as its brains. Kind of like a flying version of the Romo or SmartBot robots, it requires users to dock their phone into it for each use. That approach helps keep its price down ... and also serves as an added incentive not to crash the thing. Read More
We've been teased with the prospect of a flying car for years now, with many designs, like the Terrafugia Transition, having been under development for some time but yet to arrive in garages or hangars. The Braunschweig-based company, Carplane hopes to square the circle with a twin-fuselage roadable monoplane that made its first public appearance in prototype form at the recent AERO show in Friedrichshafen, Germany. Read More
Spreading eyeballs as widely as possible can make all the difference in the early stages of search and rescue operations. With the recent rise of drones, this has come to include getting eyes up into the sky to give some first responders an aerial perspective. The latest move to enhance search and rescue efforts comes from Lockheed Martin, which will team up with non-profit Project Lifesaver to help locate people with cognitive disorders that wander away from their home. Read More