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Artist's impression of the Rosetta spacecraft orbiting 67P (Image: ESA)

Ever since the historic achievement of August 6, when Rosetta became the first unmanned spacecraft to achieve a stable orbit around a comet, mission operators have been readying themselves for the inevitable nail-biting landing attempt. Six weeks after arrival at the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P), Rosetta's handlers have tentatively announced November 12 as the date for the historic touchdown.  Read More

The Zephyr has become the first High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) system to complete a...

The solar-powered, high-altitude long endurance (HALE) UAV previously known as the Qinetiq Zephyr, which is now part of the Airbus High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) programme and called the Airbus Zephyr, has continued its record-breaking ways in its first civil flight in the skies over Dubai earlier this month.  Read More

Facebook hopes to begin testing its solar-powered UAVs in 2015, with the ultimate aim of d...

There was an understandable amount of skepticism when Amazon announced its grand plans for delivery drones last year. But if the last twelve months are any indication, Jeff Bezos and his fellow tech heavyweights are actually kinda serious about the potential of unmanned aerial vehicles. Speaking at the Social Good Summit in New York on Monday, engineering director at Facebook Connectivity Lab, Yael Maguire, has further detailed the company's vision of internet-carrying drones, with plans to begin testing in 2015.  Read More

A concept rendering of the robotic ship of the future (Image: Rolls Royce)

Earlier this year Rolls Royce outlined a future where giant robot cargo vessels ply the world's sea lanes without a human crew on board. That scenario is now coming closer to reality as the EU project MUNIN looks into the feasibility of robotic freighters and the hurdles they must overcome.  Read More

Landing site J (pictured on the right) has been selected as Philae's primary landing site ...

The Rosetta mission's Landing Site Selection Group has selected the primary and back up landing sites for the ESA's Philae probe ahead of an attempted touchdown on 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on November 11. Selecting sites J and C as the primary and back up sites respectively was no easy task, with mission operators weighing up various factors and racing against time since the spacecraft entered orbit around the comet on August 6. Prior to this, the comet had simply been too far away to characterize.  Read More

The Orion capsule getting ready to receive its skin prior to fueling (Image: NASA/Dimitri ...

NASA’s return to manned spaceflight took a couple of major steps forward this week with the completion of the Orion crew capsule and the attachment of it and the previously-completed service module to the adapter that will connect Orion to its rocket. This marks the completion of all major components of the spacecraft, which is due to make its first test flight in December.  Read More

Project Wing is a Google X project aimed at developing self-flying delivery vehicles

Google has taken the lid off a previously secret project that is being run out of its semi-secret Google X research arm. Project Wing is focusing on the development of "a delivery system that uses self-flying vehicles." In other words, unmanned drones intended to autonomously deliver packages where and when they're needed.  Read More

Researchers have successfully paired a drone with a unmanned ground vehicle, enabling it t...

While continual improvements are allowing larger UAVs to stay in the air for longer, the lifting capacity and endurance of smaller UAVs is largely constrained by the weight and size of their batteries. In a move that could greatly expand the reach and applications of small UAVs, a team of robotics researchers propose pairing a UAV with a ground vehicle that would provide a place of respite. However, such a vision requires autonomous coordinated docking between the two vehicles, which is exactly what the team has achieved.  Read More

A K-MAX unmanned helicopter autonomously delivering an SMSS by sling load as part of a fir...

While aircraft such as the X-47B are paving the way for unmanned aircraft filling combat roles, autonomous aircraft are also being developed to tackle more mundane – but still dangerous – military operations. To this end, the first fully autonomous resupply, reconnaissance, surveillance and target-acquisition demonstration using the Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) unmanned ground vehicle, K-MAX unmanned helicopter and Gyrocam optical sensor was recently conducted at Fort Benning, Georgia.  Read More

X-47B is readied for launch along side an F/A-18 Hornet (Photo: Mass Communications Specia...

Anyone who’s seen an aircraft carrier in full operation knows that everything needs to be carried out with absolute precision by a small army of sailors as one plane lands and is hurried aside to make room for the next. To show that its X-47B Unmanned Combat Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) can work in this hectic environment alongside manned ones, the US Navy sent it to carry out landing and deck maneuvers aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) in concert with an F/A-18 fighter.  Read More

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