Photokina 2014 highlights

DARPA

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

Test firing of an LCITS rocket from an AH-1 Cobra helicopter

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has unveiled a new weapons technology designed to give helicopters, such as the MH-60 and the AH-1 Cobra, the ability to combat the threat of a small boat swarm. The Low-Cost Imaging Terminal Seeker (LCITS) system equips existing unguided Hydra-70, 2.75-inch rockets with a low-cost guidance capability that allows pilots to essentially "fire-and-forget," thereby allowing them to engage multiple, fast attack seaborne targets in a shorter period.  Read More

The Chip Scale Atomic Clock is a matchbox-sized atomic clock, that uses one one-hundredth ...

Atomic clocks are one of those things that most of us have probably always thought of as being big, ultra-expensive, and therefore only obtainable by well-funded research institutes. While that may have been the case at one time, a team of researchers have recently developed an atomic clock that they say is one one-hundredth the size – and that uses one one-hundredth the power – of previous commercially-available products. It’s called the Chip Scale Atomic Clock (CSAC), and it can be yours for about US$1,500 ... a little more than what you might pay for a regular clock, but not bad for one that varies by less than a millionth of a second per day.  Read More

Robotics company Boston Dynamics has been awarded a contract to develop a military quadrup...

It would be scary to be chased by a military robot. It would also be scary to be chased by a cheetah. So, imagine what it would be like to have a military robotic cheetah sprinting after you. Such a scenario could one day be possible, as robotics company Boston Dynamics recently announced that America’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded it a contract to design and build such a ... critter. The contract also includes the creation of an agile, bipedal humanoid robot. It’s hard to say which one might ultimately be creepier.  Read More

Dr. June Medford, with some of her pollutant- and explosive-sniffing plants

There may come a day when certain plants in your workplace suddenly turn white, at which point everyone will run screaming from the building – those co-workers will have been right to do so, as the white plants indicated that a toxic gas was present. Before that scenario can take place, a little more work still needs to be done, and Colorado State University (CSU) biologist Dr. June Medford is doing it. Using a computer-designed detection trait, she is creating plants that stop producing chlorophyll when they detect pollutants or explosives in the air.  Read More

The XC2V must be designed around the tubular chassis found in the Local Motors Rally Fight...

In an effort to streamline the design and build process for manufacturing military vehicles, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is enlisting the “power of the crowd”. Through the Experimental Crowd-derived Combat-support Vehicle (XC2V) Design Challenge, which asks entrants to conceptualize a vehicle body design for combat reconnaissance and combat delivery & evacuation, the agency is looking to pick the brains of not only armed service members and engineers, but also members of the public and others that usually have no way to contribute to military design.  Read More

The Transformer (TX) program calls for a vertical-takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicle that ...

The company behind the first FAA approved "roadable aircraft" – the Terrafugia Transition – has been selected to contribute to DARPA's Transformer (TX) Project, a program that aims to bring flying car technology to the battlefield. Terrafugia will subcontract to one of two winning teams under phase one of the program which focuses on creating a conceptual design for a four person cross between a Humvee and a helicopter for use in insurgency, reconnaissance, medical evacuation and logistical supply.  Read More

The Autonomous Audi TTS Pikes Peak research Vehicle

Not long ago, there was informed debate on whether a purpose-built computer would ever beat a chess master. Now mobile phones have achieved Grand Master status. Computers continue to get exponentially faster, not to mention considerably smarter through improved software, whereas humans are effectively nearing their limits. Hence, it’s arguably only a matter of time and R&D focus before computers (plus improved sensors and software) surpass any specific human capability. This week Audi revealed that its Autonomous TTS research car had completed the 12.42-mile Pike’s Peak mountain course in 27 minutes. An expert driver in the same car would take around 17 minutes – now we have a benchmark, the race is on, and it's almost inevitable that a computer will one day outdrive the best of our species, and it may be sooner than you think.  Read More

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