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DARPA

Toyota finally appears ready to play its hand in the autonomous vehicle revolution

Toyota is to show an autonomous (self-driving) Prius at Tokyo Motor Show. Dubbed the Toyota AVOS (Automatic Vehicle Operation System), the car will be available for members of the public to take "back seat" rides at the show, demonstrating first hand how the Prius can avoid obstacles, be summoned from a parking garage and park itself. There will also be a demonstration of communications-linked electric cars, scooters and electric-assisted bicycles including what is expected to be Yamaha's first production electric scooter.  Read More

A rendering of the FastRunner bipedal sprinting robot (Image: IHMC)

Fast as the FastRunner may become, it will never be able to escape the comparison to an ostrich. One day, thanks to a joint effort by MIT and the Florida Institute of Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), this bipedal sprinting robot is going to assume its rightful place in the DARPA-funded robotic zoo, right next to the robotic cheetah and the mule-like BigDog. Thanks to an innovative, self-stabilizing leg design, the movements of this flightless robotic bird are going to be not only very efficient, but also extremely fast. The legs are already capable of hitting 27 mph (43.4 km/h), matching the fastest of humans. The researchers hope to see FastRunner reach speeds of up to 50 mph (80.4 km/h). That, plus the ability to negotiate fairly rough, uneven terrain, potentially makes it a force to be reckoned with, on the battlefield and elsewhere.  Read More

In order to develop methods for reading shredded documents, DARPA is running a contest in ...

Do you like puzzles? If you’re good enough at solving them, it could win you up to US$50,000. That's the maximum prize that DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is offering in its Shredder Challenge. The agency is trying to develop methods of reconstructing shredded documents that U.S. soldiers could use when gathering intelligence in war zones – it also wants to identify shredded-document-reading strategies that could be used against the U.S., so that it can take preemptive measures against them. What better way to do it than by crowd-sourcing?  Read More

A rendering of DARPA's proposed tender satellite, in the process of removing the antenna f...

Satellites are very expensive to put into orbit. This is because the parts that they're built from are costly to make, but also because it requires so much energy to lift their considerable weight off the Earth's surface. It would then follow that satellites would cost less if they could use salvaged parts, and if they were lighter when lifting off from the launch pad. That's where DARPA's proposed Phoenix program comes into play. It would see a purpose-built spacecraft removing usable parts from the plethora of "dead" satellites currently in orbit, then leaving those parts for attachment to newly-arriving satellites.  Read More

DARPA researchers have ruggedized a compact solid oxide fuel cell fueled by propane and in...

Small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have become an increasingly important intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tool for the military and their use will only continue to expand. While vehicles that are small enough to be carried provide soldiers in the field with capabilities such as over-the-next-hill imagery or the short-term monitoring of convoys, much research is going into finding ways to extend mission duration through better battery systems. DARPA researchers say they have overcome this limitation with the development of a compact solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) fueled by propane that quadruples the endurance of small unmanned aircraft systems .  Read More

AeroVironment has unveiled its latest Unmanned Aircraft System, the 'perch-and-stare' Shri...

California-based aerospace company AeroVironment has developed some fascinating Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) over the years, including the High Altitude Long Endurance Global Observer, a hummingbird-like nano air vehicle, and the hand-launched Wasp III reconnaissance platform. In 2008, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded the company US$4.6 million in funding to develop a “perch-and-stare” aircraft, for use in military surveillance. Today, AeroVironment unveiled the result – the Shrike Vertical Take-off And Landing (VTOL) UAS.  Read More

DARPA's HTV-2 hypersonic vehicle, which prematurely splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on ...

The first – and perhaps only – video footage of the ill-fated second test-flight of DARPA’s Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2) has been released. Shot with a handheld camera by a crewmember aboard the Pacific Tracker, the first monitoring vessel able to visually track the HTV’s initial entry into the atmosphere, the video shows the HTV-2 hurtling across the sky on August 11 at Mach 20 before its “controlled descent” into the Pacific Ocean.  Read More

DARPA's HTV-2 hypersonic vehicle, which splashed down in the Pacific Ocean during its seco...

DARPA has confirmed the splash down of its unmanned Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (HTV-2) following the hypersonic vehicle’s second test flight on August 11. While a “controlled descent” generally refers to a human directing and guiding an aircraft to an unscheduled landing, safety systems onboard the HTV-2 kicked in after an anomaly was detected a little over nine minutes into the test flight and autonomously directed it into the ocean.  Read More

Lockheed Martin's Samarai Flyer monocopter micro air vehicle, alongside a maple seed

If you’ve ever watched a maple seed spiraling down from a branch, you may have marveled at how it looked like a tiny one-rotor-bladed helicopter. If you did, well, you weren’t the only one. In 2009, students from the University of Maryland’s Clark School of Engineering unveiled their remarkable samara (maple seed)-inspired micro air vehicle, which was billed as “the world’s first controllable robotic samara monocopter.” Flash forward to this Tuesday, and Lockheed Martin performed the first public flight of its similar Samarai Flyer, at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International conference in Washington, D.C.  Read More

The HTV-2 is designed to travel at speeds of Mach 20

On Thursday, DARPA's unmanned Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2 (HTV-2) was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard an Air Force Minotaur IV rocket, which inserted the aircraft into the desired trajectory. After separation from the rocket, the vehicle transitioned to Mach 20 (approximately 13,000 mph/21,000 km/h) aerodynamic flight but a little after nine minutes of monitored flight the signal from the vehicle was lost with initial indications that the second test flight has ended in the same way as the first - with a crash into the Pacific Ocean.  Read More

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