Computational creativity and the future of AI

Aerodynamics

A depiction of Blue Origin's Space Vehicle

When it comes to spacecraft that may take the place of the now-defunct space shuttle, it would probably be fair to say that most people probably think of the SpaceX Dragon. It’s sometimes easy to forget, however, that SpaceX is a private company, competing against others for NASA’s business. One of those competitors is Washington state-based Blue Origin, established by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos (SpaceX was co-founded by Elon Musk, of PayPal fame). Although the company has been rather secretive about the space vehicle that it’s developing, it recently announced that the design has done well in a series of wind tunnel tests.  Read More

Kai Richter (left) and Holger Mai of DLR inspect the installation of humpback whale-inspir...

Oh, those humpback whales and their weird fins. First, they inspired more efficient wind turbines. Next, their unique qualities were copied by undersea turbines used to harness tidal flow energy. Now, they’ve led to rotor blades that allow helicopters to be more maneuverable. It all comes down to bumps along their leading edge, known as tubercles.  Read More

Pilot Matthew Tanner is raising funds to build a vertical-winged stunt aircraft, which cou...

Matthew Tanner is a Colorado-based air show pilot who also competes in aerobatics competitions and teaches Air Force pilots how to fly. His current stunt aircraft of choice is a Laser Z300. Much as he is able to do with the nimble little airplane, he wants to be able to perform aerial maneuvers that no one has ever seen before. In order to do so, he intends to equip the plane with a pair vertical wings.  Read More

The new version of the Ferrari 599XX track car features a rear wing with electronically-ro...

For the past couple of years, many of the technologies destined for Ferrari’s road-going supercars were initially developed on the automaker’s track-only 599XX. Based on the 599 GTB Fiorano, the 599XX is made in very limited numbers, and serves as a kind of mobile testbed for new ideas. While it is possible for a few of Ferrari’s favorite people to buy the cars, the company still prepares and drives the vehicles on their behalf, at test tracks and race tracks in Europe and the U.S. Although the car was premiered in 2009 at the Geneva International Motor Show, the latest version is being presented at this month’s Bologna Motor Show. One of the more noteworthy features on the new model is its active aerodynamics system.  Read More

Mercedes' Aero Trailer, being pulled by an Actros tractor unit

Being in Belgium in November for a truck show may or may not be your cup of tea/mug of Java, but Mercedes is at least doing its best to make the "Trailer 2011" exhibition interesting. The truck design world moves at a glacial pace compared to the consumer automobile business, and new models have to provide serious and significant commercial improvements if they are to be accepted by the trucking fraternity. Coming off the back of the well-received launch of its new Actros heavyweight tractor unit, Mercedes brought along a trailer concept design that aims to match and extend the significant commercial and environmental advantages of that unit. It looks cool, too.  Read More

Few road-going cars have seen variable aerodynamics beyond the raising of rear  spoilers i...

Honda's AC-X is a plug-in hybrid concept that at first glance appears to be relatively conservative. It is not conservative in the least, and when the vehicle's full capabilities are unveiled in Tokyo a few weeks from now, we expect it to have front and rear bumpers which raise and lower to offer better aerodynamics depending on the speed, an autonomous or semi-autonomous driving mode which does not require the driver to steer, a radical smart key device and some very interesting 3D GPS displays which stretch right across the dashboard to give the passenger an unprecedented view of the surroundings.  Read More

The Solar Ship could be used for a variety of applications - including tourism (Rendered i...

In recent times there's been a resurgence of interest in airships for military and commercial uses as evidenced by Lockheed Martin's High Altitude Long Endurance-Demonstrator (HALE-D) and Hybrid Air Vehicles heavy-lift variant of Northrop Grumman's Long-Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV). Like HAV's design, this concept from Canadian company Solar Ship is a hybrid airship that relies on aerodynamics to help provide lift, and like the HALE-D, it would have its top surface area covered in solar cells to provide energy and minimize its carbon footprint.  Read More

Researchers inspired by the wings of swifts and swftlets have developed an experimental Mi...

As I look out of my office window and watch the heart-stopping acrobatics of feeding swifts, it's not difficult to see why so many aircraft designers find inspiration in nature - from birds to bats to insects. Now it's the turn of the swift. Hoping to demonstrate the endurance and performance benefits of a combined flapping and gliding approach to Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) design, researchers have developed an experimental flyer capable of combining both unsteady and steady aerodynamics.  Read More

The decade long development campaign could not possibly be amortized effectively across ju...

Lexus' LFA supercar is, or was, the most exclusive vehicle ever built by the world’s largest automobile manufacturer – only 500 of the exotic carbon fiber 200 mph V10s will be sold at US$375,000 apiece. Now the racetrack-focused “LFA Nürburgring Package” is set to be revealed. Only 50 such 562 bhp vehicles will be produced with revised aerodynamics and technical refinements designed to fine-tune the exotic two-seat sports coupe to be capable of lapping the fabled Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit under 7:20. Now the average Gomer needs more than just a wad of cash, industrial-sized gonads and a sweet handling, brutally powerful car to get around the “Green Hell” inside eight minutes, let alone seven twenty, so the price includes special instruction sessions on the circuit into the bargain. The car can be had in white, orange or black at US$445,000 or in and matte black for US$465,000, making it the most expensive Japanese road car ever.  Read More

Alexander Alexeev and Hassan Masoud, with their computer model of flapping-wing flight (Ph...

Imagine insect-like aircraft capable of military or civilian surveillance missions, impossible for current fixed-wing or rotary-wing vehicles – tiny flying machines able to access buildings reduced to rubble by earthquakes, or act as a fly-on-the-wall in the meeting rooms of enemy leaders. Such aircraft may be one step closer to realization, thanks to a breakthrough in our understanding of how flapping wings work.  Read More

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