Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Aircraft

In this lab setup, the glider is able to locate and perch in front of a power line

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are currently being considered for many applications, although one factor that a lot of people tend to gloss over is the aircrafts' limited battery range – being able to stay airborne for only 10 to 30 minutes at a time definitely limits their usefulness. Researchers at MIT, however, are developing a possible solution. They're working on a fixed-wing UAV that can perch on power lines and use their emitted magnetic fields to recharge its battery, before continuing on its way.  Read More

The Lockheed Martin future supersonic advanced concept (Image: Lockheed Martin/NASA)

On October, 24 2003, the last Concorde jet went out of service. What began as a promise of supersonic travel for all, ended as a museum exhibit of a false dawn. However, that may be changing with companies such as Aerion and Spike Aerospace looking to take business jets supersonic. At Aviation 2014, an annual event of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, NASA presented examples of the space agency’s work on new technologies that could lead to a revival of civilian supersonic travel within the next 15 years.  Read More

The AirDog is a new autonomous drone that will follow the user and film them using an onbo...

Typical. You wait ages for an autonomous aerial camera drone and then two come along at once. We featured Squadrone System's Hexo+ drone yesterday and today it's the turn of the AirDog from Helico Aerospace Industries. Like the Hexo+, the AirDog will track the user and film them from above.  Read More

The HEXO+ drone autonomously tracks its user

If you watch almost any video promoting a consumer drone, chances are you'll see the aircraft flying along above a moving motorbike rider, snowboarder or other fast-moving athlete. It makes for some impressive aerial footage of the person, but also requires a fair bit of piloting skill. Additionally, if you buy one of those drones, you'll end up shooting other people doing those things – what if you want footage of yourself? Well, that's where the HEXO+ hexacopter comes in. It autonomously flies above its user, shooting video of them as they do their thing.  Read More

The Skyteboard drone is designed to integrate with the Fatdoor social network to bring com...

When we have unmanned aerial vehicles zipping about delivering school textbooks and burritos, drones that bring neighborhoods closer together doesn't sound like the most radical idea. But combining them with a social network could have impacts beyond enabling more efficient shipping services, at least in the eyes of software and robotics company Fatdoor. This week it launched a crowdfunding campaign for Skyteboard, an internet-connected quadcopter designed to take community spirit to the next level.  Read More

BP has been authorized to fly a Puma AE UAV similar to this one, used by the US Marine Cor...

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has waived the usual restrictions on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and is allowing the BP oil company and UAS manufacturer AeroVironment to use an AeroVironment Puma AE for aerial surveys in Alaska. According to the FAA, this is the first time permission has been given for a commercial drone to fly over land in the United States.  Read More

The HorseFly octocopter could charge its battery and pick up packages from a mobile delive...

When Amazon announced its plan to use drones for home deliveries, a lot of people were quick to point out the huge logistical challenges involved. Among those is the fact that a multicopter's limited battery range would make it rather difficult for just one or two Amazon warehouses to serve an entire city. A team from the University of Cincinnati and AMP Electric Vehicles, however, may have a solution. They've created an octocopter that could make short flights from a traveling delivery van, using that van as a mobile charging station and package depot.  Read More

The Solar Impulse 2 made its first flight on Monday

The maiden flight of Solar Impulse 2 took place on Monday morning at Payerne aerodrome in Switzerland. The solar-powered aircraft took off at 5:36 AM CET, when the weather around the aerodrome was at its calmest, with pilot Markus Scherdel at the controls. The aircraft flew for two hours and 17 minutes, reaching an altitude of 1,670 m (5,500 ft) and a ground speed of 55.6 km/h (30 kt). According to Solar Impulse, the in-flight data indicates that the aircraft slated to make the first all-solar global circumnavigation flight performed to expectations.  Read More

The Sunseeker Duo becomes the first solar-powered airplane to carry two people

Last month, Solar Flight revealed that the team was working hard to get its Sunseeker Duo ready for the first passenger flights this (northern) summer. Today, the company announced that husband and wife team Eric and Irena Raymond have taken to the skies together, making the Duo the first solar-powered airplane to carry two people.  Read More

The technology has been tested in a flight simulator

Flying is most definitely a hands-on (and feet-on) job, but it may not always be that way. Turning science fiction into fact, researchers at the Institute for Flight System Dynamics of the Technische Universität München (TUM) and the TU Berlin are developing a way for pilots to control aircraft with their minds alone. According to the team, they have not only demonstrated that it’s possible, but that it can be done with a surprising degree of accuracy.  Read More

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