In 1906, the battleship HMS Dreadnought entered into service with the Royal Navy. With her 12-in (305 mm) guns, high speed capabilities and other innovations, she rendered all other major warships obsolete. Inspired by this revolutionary design, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) think-tank project Startpoint has unveiled its vision of a Navy vessel 35 years from now with the Dreadnought 2050 – an automated fusion-powered surface warship equipped with lasers, hypersonic missiles, a high-tech composite hull, and torpedoes that can travel at over 300 knots (345 mph, 555 km/h).
Last year, Land Rover unveiled its Discovery Vision concept with its Transparent Bonnet, which used cameras and virtual technology to make the front of the car appear "transparent" to the driver. It was a clever idea for eliminating blind spots, but what if you're hauling a caravan or a horse box? To help eliminate this massive rear blind spot, the company has developed a prototype "Transparent Trailer" system, which extends virtual translucence to the rear.
A smartphone with a 16-megapixel camera may seem cutting edge, but it won't impress astronomers now that the US Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has given the green light to start construction of the world's largest digital camera. With a resolution of 3.2-gigapixels (enough to need 1,500 high-definition television screens to display one image), the new camera is at the heart of the 8.4-meter (27.5-ft) Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) now under construction atop Cerro Pachón in Chile.
Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones, have quickly gained popularity with the public. And as is so often the case with rapidly advancing technologies, it can be hard for the public to know legally what they can and can't do with the technology – or in the case of drones, where they can and can't fly. To help dispel confusion surrounding drone flights, the US FAA is beta testing its B4UFLY smartphone app, which tells users about any restrictions on unmanned aircraft they might want to fly in a particular area.
Working outside in space is a tall order. The environment is hostile, even the smallest job takes hours instead of minutes, and everything has to be done in either bulky suits or through robotic arms. It's a challenge that will become even more difficult when future astronauts are controlling robotic rovers from orbit, so ESA is getting in a bit of practice. Next month Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen will take control of a rover in the Netherlands while orbiting the Earth aboard the International Space Station.
The United States boasts some of the most advanced multi-mission combat aircraft in the world, but this can be a liability as well as an asset. True, each aircraft can outperform an entire squadron of a few decades ago, but they're also very expensive, incredibly complex, and not exactly expendable. For these reasons DARPA has launched the Gremlins program, which aims to develop swarms of cheaper, smarter aircraft that can be deployed and collected in midair.
NASA has previously tested simple 3D-printed rocket components, such as combustion chambers and fuel injectors, but if the technique is to be practical, it has to cope with more complex items. Case in point is this 3D-printed rocket engine turbopump. Successfully built and tested at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the turbopump is described as "one of the most complex, 3D-printed rocket engine parts ever made."
New Horizons isn't going to get much of a rest. Following on from its historic flyby of Pluto on July 14, NASA has selected the next potential destination for the unmanned spacecraft – a planetoid called 2014 MU69 that lies a billion miles beyond Pluto's orbit. The space probe will take over three years to reach this frozen remnant of the Solar System's earliest years.
NASA is another step closer to manned deep-space missions with the completion of the latest round of RS-25 rocket engine tests. Based on the engines that sent the Space Shuttle into orbit, the new power plants will form the core of the Space Launch System (SLS).
The mechanical button or switch is that most simple of user interfaces. So simple that just about every electrical device in the home, from lights to coffee machines, will have one. With the goal of letting these legacy devices join the home automation bandwagon, South Korean startup Naran has come up with Microbot Push – a wireless robotic "finger" designed to operate standard buttons and switches.