Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Flight

Artist's concept of the HammerHead UAV on a mission (Photo: Piaggio)

There was an unusual shape in the skies over Italy last week as the Piaggio Aero Company and Selex ES successfully completed the first flight of the aptly-named Hammerhead UAV on Thursday, November 14, near the Trapini Air Force Base. The aircraft was remotely controlled from the ground, with no crew on board, while two chase planes kept the UAV in sight during the flight.  Read More

The 18-rotor electric Volocopter has taken to the air for the first time

E-volo recently celebrated the maiden launch of its electric two-passenger, 18-rotor VC200 "Volocopter," touting the vehicle's safety and simplicity after an indoor flight inside the Dm-arena in Karlsruhe, Germany on November 17. While the copter is similar in form to both quadcopters and helicopters, the company resists the helicopter label, pointing out the numerous radically different safety and design choices that set the vehicle apart.  Read More

The Morph concept would allow passengers to purchase additional sitting width

Economy airline seats have a one-size-fits-all design that seems to fit hardly anybody and often makes flights of any length into an extended exercise in discomfort. Last week, London-based design firm Seymourpowell presented Morph – a new concept economy seat for airline travel that uses stretched fabric sheets and movable supports to allow passengers to customize their seats and even purchase extra width.  Read More

The Flexrotor UAV takes off autonomously from the skiff

Northrop Grumman's X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) may have grabbed headlines earlier this year with its first launches from and landings aboard an aircraft carrier, but Aerovel Corporation has completed an equally impressive launch, flight and landing of its Flexrotor UAV from a somewhat smaller carrier. And in this case, not only was the aircraft unmanned, so was the boat.  Read More

Still attached to tethers, the Aeroscraft prototype lifts a short way into the sky as pre-...

After a 70-year absence, it appears that a new rigid frame airship will soon be taking to the skies over California. Aeros Corporation, a company based near San Diego, has received experimental airworthiness certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to begin flight testing the Aeroscraft airship and, as these new photographs of the airship undergoing tethered testing show, the company has wasted no time in getting started.  Read More

The TerreFugia Transition performed a 20-minute demonstration flight at EAA AirVenture Osh...

There was a ray of hope recently for those who are looking forward to a car that’s a bit more Blade Runnery as Terrafugia's Transition flying car made its first public flights at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. There, the Terrafugia team conducted two 20-minute flight demonstrations and also showed off the capability for the Transition's wings to be folded up so it can be driven about like a car.  Read More

The solar-powered Puma AE prototype readied for hand launch (Photo: Courtesy AeroVironment...

A solar-powered variant of AeroVironment’s hand-launched Puma AE small UAS has matched the continuous flight time of over nine hours attained by a hybrid fuel cell-powered model in 2008.  Read More

View from the aircraft testing the Ultraviolet 'Light Detection and Ranging' (LIDAR) instr...

For most air travelers, turbulence provides nothing more serious than the odd moment of extreme panic, but it costs airlines hundreds of millions of dollars each year in injury compensation and aircraft damage. There are various different types of turbulence, but the most dangerous, because it is invisible and extremely difficult to detect, is clear-air turbulence (CAT). A new CAT detection technology that could help pilots choose a smoother route is now being tested as part of a European joint project called DELICAT (Demonstration of LIDAR based CAT detection).  Read More

As the united band of robots hovers and climbs off the ground, each robot module is using ...

Researchers at ETH Zurich have demonstrated an amazing capability for small robots to self-assemble and take to the air as a multi-rotor helicopter. Maximilian Kriegleder and Raymond Oung worked with Professor Raffaello D’Andrea at his research lab to develop the small hexagonal pods that assemble into flying rafts. The true accomplishment of this research is that there is not one robot in control – each unit in itself decides what actions to take to keep the group in the air in what's known as Distributed Flight Array.  Read More

The Polyplane and the Samara are disposable UAVs designed to help monitor forest fires (Ph...

The term "UAV" generally leads us to think about expensive, high-tech military drones like General Atomics' Predator, but a Robotics team led by Dr. Paul Pounds at Australia's University of Queensland has created a pair of UAVs that are so cheap and easy to manufacture that they'll literally be disposable, single use items. One's basically a high-tech paper plane, while the other follows the form factor of a maple seed with both designed to help save lives in the event of a forest fire.  Read More

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