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Flight

Robotics

Festo demonstrates BionicOpter dragonfly robot

The dragonfly is quite the show off when it comes to flying. It can hover in mid-air, maneuver in all directions, and glide without so much as a beat of its wings. After succeeding in capturing the essence of a herring gull with the SmartBird, the folks over at German pneumatic and electric automation company Festo challenged themselves with the creation of a robotic addition to the dragonfly family – the BionicOpter.Read More

SpaceShipTwo's nitrous venting tested in-flight

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo left terra firma for her 24th glide flight on Wednesday morning. The flight was the first in which the loading and venting of the ship's nitrous system was tested. Virgin Galactic described the flight as "another key milestone on the way to our first powered flight." Read More

Science

Robotic bat wing reveals flight secrets of bats

Recently, we've seen a robotic ostrich. Now, there’s a robot bat – or at least, part of one. Joseph Bahlman, a graduate student at Brown University, with the help of Professors Kenneth Breuer and Sharon Swartz, has developed a robotic bat wing that mimics the ligaments, skin and structural supports of the real thing. The purpose of the motorized plastic bat is to gain a better understanding of how bats are engineered and fly. Read More

Robotics

Quadrocopters throw, catch, and balance an inverted pendulum

Apparently, balancing a pole on top of a flying quadrocopter robot wasn't challenging enough for the researchers at ETH Zurich's Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control. Their latest project has two quadrocopters playing catch with a precariously balanced pole – the first robot launches the pole into the air, while the second robot deftly moves into position in less than a second to catch it as it falls. The incredible precision flying achieved by the team can be seen in a video after the break.Read More

Aircraft

Skyflash: Jetman-like wings designed to allow ground take off

While most of us sit around grumbling and demanding to know, “where’s my jetpack?", German Fritz Unger and a group of friends have decided to do something about it. On a shoestring budget they are building their own one-man, jet-propelled wing. Dubbed “Skyflash,” it’s meant to not only emulate the jet wing made famous by Jetman Yves Rossy, but to go one better by taking off from the ground instead of having to be dropped from an aircraft.Read More

Armadillo Aerospace has precision landings down pat

Armadillo Aerospace has taken some major strides with its FAA-approved suborbital rocket, the STIG-B. Despite encountering difficulties reaching design altitude during testing, the company appears to have mastered the landing side of the equation using a self-guided ramair parachute system. A flight on December 6 returned the rocket to within 55 meters (180 ft) of the intended recovery point. Read More

Aircraft

Micro jet turbine-powered Jet Vest developers seek a Kickstart

The Bell rocket belt captured the world's imagination when it was featured in the 1965 James Bond movie Thunderball. Now, the folks at Jet Machines Extreme (JME) are designing a modern version not powered by rockets, but by a set of four miniature turbojets. The new Jet Vest is expected to offer free flying times nearly four minutes in duration. Having run short of development money, JME is exploring another modern innovation by reaching out to crowd-funding site Kickstarter for a boost. Read More

Aircraft

Europe’s nEUROn UCAV demonstrator makes its maiden flight

The European designed nEUROn Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator successfully completed its maiden flight on December 1, 2012. The flight took place at Dassault Aviation’s flight test base in Istres in southern France and marks a milestone for the nEUROn program that was launched in 2005 by the French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) that involves the collaboration of six European countries.Read More

Drones

LA100 fully autonomous UAV brings aerial photography to non-flyers

Micro UAVs have proven a boon for photographers looking to spread their wings into the aerial realm. Similarly, wearable actioncams, like the GoPro line, have enabled amateurs to capture professional quality images and video from angles hitherto the province of seasoned professionals with expensive equipment. France’s Lehmann Aviation is bringing these two technologies together with the LA100, a fully automatic UAV designed specifically to carry a GoPro HERO3 camera.Read More

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