Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Aircraft

Airbus is helping fund a project examining the potential for hydrogen fuel cells to replac...

With the airline industry's commitment to halve 2005 CO2 emission levels by 2050 prompting Airbus and others to accelerate the development of alternative jet fuels, Airbus is now getting behind a project to examine the potential for using hydrogen fuel cells on commercial airliners – not to power the jet engines, but to replace the Auxiliary Power Units (APUs).  Read More

Drone delivery company Flirtey has announced plans to expand overseas

Drone company Flirtey first caught our attention last year when it teamed up with fellow Australian startup Zookai, promising schoolbooks delivered by drone. Almost twelve months on, CEO Matt Sweeney has secured a partnership to conduct high-tech testing at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) and is eyeing off New Zealand as a testbed to grow his business. So how does a startup hinged on the speculative concept of drone delivery navigate its way through a technological and regulatory minefield? We spoke with Sweeney on his plans to take Flirtey global.  Read More

An unmanned aerial system being developed by AREND aims to deter rhino poaching in Africa'...

Like many a technology before it, the aerial drone is finding applications far beyond military circles, from burrito delivery to surveying broken bridges. One emerging area with huge potential is wildlife conservation, with drones delivering the ability to patrol and detect illegal poachers from the air. AREND (Aircraft for Rhino and Environmental Defense) is an international team of students currently developing an unmanned aerial system with the ultimate objective of combating poaching in Africa's national parks.  Read More

Robot raptors that fly like the real thing are designed to act as a deterrent to flocks of...

Birds that stray into the paths of aircraft, eat crops, or spread disease from foraging in large numbers at landfills are, at best, a nuisance and, at worst, downright dangerous. Over the years people have tried everything from scaring them away with loud noises to trapping them – all with varying results. Now a designer from the Netherlands has come up with robotic birds of prey that look and fly exactly like the real thing.  Read More

A number of patent applications suggest Disney is looking to use UAVs in its theme park sh...

The weird and wonderful world of Disney may be about to get a little more weird and wonderful, depending on how you feel about drones. The Walt Disney Company has filed three patents suggesting it may intend to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to control giant marionettes, replace fireworks and suspend floating displays in its future theme park shows.  Read More

Project Wing is a Google X project aimed at developing self-flying delivery vehicles

Google has taken the lid off a previously secret project that is being run out of its semi-secret Google X research arm. Project Wing is focusing on the development of "a delivery system that uses self-flying vehicles." In other words, unmanned drones intended to autonomously deliver packages where and when they're needed.  Read More

A new algorithm developed at MIT enables delivery drones to better preserve their health i...

The prospect of delivery drones brings with it a few notable issues. Beyond visions of colliding rotor blades and unsolicited package drops lies another problem: the huge amount of computational power needed to take into account real world uncertainties, such as strong winds, limited battery life and navigational errors, in order to provide a reliable delivery service. This has been the focus of new study from MIT, with a team of researchers devising a new algorithm said to massively reduce the level of computation required, enabling the drone to monitor its "health" in real time.  Read More

The BAE smart skin would turn the entire hull of an aircraft into a sensor array

In some cases, a pilot discovering damage to an airplane involves noticing a frightening thump on the hull. That may indicate that something is wrong, but not what or where. On the other hand, when human beings are injured, the network of nerves in the skin tell us almost exactly where and what is wrong. Stealing a march on nature, BAE Systems’ Advanced Technology Centre is working on a "smart skin" that covers the fuselage of an aircraft with thousands of microsensors to send back a wide variety of detailed information in real time.  Read More

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