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Drones

— Drones

Hurricane-inspecting Coyote drone flies right into the eye of the storm

Flying manned aircraft into the carnage of a hurricane has given researchers new means of studying tropical storms, beyond what can be learned from the ground or satellites. But do you know what might even lot more productive (and safer) than that? Sending in aircraft without anyone on board. This is the objective of researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who have just completed a successful test flight of their Coyote Unmanned Aircraft System designed to retrieve important data from the eye of the storm to improve hurricane forecasting.

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Airbus Counter-UAV System detects illicit drones and shuts them down

With a projected one million drones sold during the holidays, the potential security risks to everything from military installations to energy plants to airports increased as well. Bearing that in mind, Airbus Defence and Space recently introduced its Counter-UAV System as a way to detect potential UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) threats from a distance of between 5 and 10 km (3 and 6 miles) and bring them down with electronic countermeasures.

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Drone-catching hexacopter fires a large net to reel in suspicious aircraft

Shotguns, radio beams and firmware updates are just a few of the ways being floated to stop dangerous drones in their tracks. Another approach that's starting to gain a bit of traction is drone-catching nets carried by drones themselves. Following the lead of Tokyo police last month, a team of mechanical engineers has devised a retrieval system that captures small drones and carries them unharmed to desired location.

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VTOL Kestrel drone morphs into fixed-wing aircraft after takeoff

Nearly all drones currently fall into one of two categories: they are either fixed wing, which means their wings are rigid like an airplane, or they use rotary wings like a helicopter. Fixed-wing drones tend to have longer range and greater carrying capacity than the rotary-wing variety, but they lack the ability to takeoff and land vertically. For humanitarian and agricultural use, the strengths of both types are crucial. It's no surprise, then, that drone maker Autel Robotics has developed a tiltrotor unmanned aircraft that can takeoff vertically and transition into a fixed-wing flight mode once it gets into the air.

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Typhoon H hexacopter features folding landing gear, swivelling 4K camera and more

Camera-carrying hobby drones are now large and sophisticated enough to allow anyone to take stills and videos that once would have required a helicopter. Unfortunately, that capability is marred when the drone's landing gear keeps getting in the way or when getting that video of a mountain glen means trekking in with an unwieldy flying machine. Yuneec International's Typhoon H hexacopter frees up the camera with retractable landing gear, plus it has a folding design that makes the craft backpackable.

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Walkera's methanol-fuelled range extender keeps a QR X900 hexacopter in the air for more than an hour

Hexacopter flight times over an hour should soon become possible. Chinese drone manufacturer Walkera has decided to go beyond the battery, teaming up with micro-generator producers at GenSmart to build a new hybrid powertrain for its QR X900 professional heavy lifter. A tiny, efficient methanol motor charges the battery during flight, allowing long flight times and instant refueling and it can be switched off so the drone can operate in "stealth mode" when necessary.

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