|Posted by Omar Bilonashvili on May 4, 2013 at 10:25 AM||comments (0)|
3rd of May at 6:12 am PST, the Solar Impulse solar-powered airplane took off from San Francisco’s Moffett Airfield, beginning the first leg of its planned flight across the U.S.
The aircraft was piloted by Bertrand Piccard (and still is, at the time of this posting). He will be sharing piloting duties throughout the course of the 2013 Across America mission with fellow Solar Impulse team member André Borschberg. The mission will be broken into five legs, with the plane making stops at select American cities between each one. It is expected that the final leg of the journey will begin in early July.
Officially known as HB-SIA, the single-passenger Solar Impulse aircraft incorporates 11,628 solar cells on the top of its wing and horizontal stabilizer. These power its four 10-hp electric motors, and also charge its 400 kilograms (882 lb) of lithium batteries – allowing it to fly at night.
It should be completing the first leg of the mission when it lands in Phoenix, Arizona this Saturday (May 4th).
|Posted by Omar Bilonashvili on April 6, 2013 at 1:15 PM||comments (0)|
Despite the Segway becoming a household name, personal mobility vehicles have so far failed to make it to the world’s sidewalks in any great numbers. Still, some intriguing concepts over the years from the likes of Toyota, Honda and GM suggest that the wheels of the personal mobility revolution are still turning – if slowly. Hyundai is now getting into the act with its “E4U” personal mobility vehicle concept that was spied at the Seoul Motor Show last week by Nikkei Tech-On.
Hyundai’s egg-shaped vehicle sets itself apart by sitting atop a horizontally-spinning semisphere that is used for propulsion instead of wheels. The driver stands on a small platform and directs the vehicle by tilting it so that different sides of the semisphere contact the ground. Tech-On says this is similar to the way a helicopter works, with two rear wheels providing stability and friction to act like a helicopter’s tail rotor.
Other details are scant, but another “interesting” feature is the that the top of the vehicle can be removed and worn by the driver as an eye-catching helmet. This is dominated by a large clear visor that seems more fitting for higher speeds than the walking pace the concept is currently capable of.
According to Tech-On, Hyundai’s Advanced Design Department only began development of the E4U in October 2012, so we’ll be interested to see where this concept goes.
|Posted by Omar Bilonashvili on March 28, 2013 at 4:00 PM||comments (0)|
The engineers at UK-based aerospace firm AgustaWestland are no slouches when it comes to tilt rotor aircraft, having recently developed the intriguing commercial-use AW609. It seems, however, that they’ve been holding out on us ... over a year and a half ago, they began secretly test-flying what they have now publicly unveiled as being the world’s first electric tilt rotor airplane. It’s known simply as Project Zero.
The technology demonstrator aircraft was reportedly designed and built over a period of just six months. It made its first unmanned tethered flight at the company's Cascina Costa facility in Italy, in June of 2011. It has since been flown several other times in 2011 and 2012, including some untethered flights “inside a secured area.”
As with other tilt rotor aircraft, Project Zero’s two rotors can be tilted up to 90 degrees. This allows it to take off and land vertically and to hover, like a helicopter, while also flying forward with the speed and efficiency of a fixed-wing aircraft. Each of the rotors are driven by their own electric motor, which is powered by rechargeable batteries – technical details are sparse at this time. When parked on the ground, those rotors can be tilted to “windmill” in the oncoming wind, charging the batteries as they do so.
The aircraft’s control systems, flight controls and landing gear actuators are also all electrically powered, which means no hydraulic system is required – the aircraft also doesn’t require a transmission.
The aircraft's entire aircraft exterior surface is carbon graphite to maximize strength and minimize weight. The wings provide most of the lift when cruising, with elevons (combined elevators and ailerons) controlling pitch and roll, and the V-tail adding longitudinal stability. For missions that are primarily taking place in “helicopter mode,” however, the outer portion of the wings can be removed for increased maneuverability.
Additionally, because Project Zero’s electric motors don’t require oxygen in order to operate, the aircraft could conceivably fly at very high altitudes or in heavily-polluted air. It should also be difficult to detect, as it makes little noise and has a low thermal signature while in flight.
It’s hard to say when or if we might see a production version of Project Zero, as it was designed as “an insight into what advanced rotorcraft of the future may look like.” AgustaWestland is looking into the possibility of a hybrid version, which would use a diesel engine to power a generator.
|Posted by Omar Bilonashvili on March 3, 2013 at 4:35 PM||comments (0)|
Engineers at GE think they could have a revolution on their hands, thanks to the new jet engine they've been testing recently that runs hotter than any of its predecessors. When combined with some other design changes, they figure their so-called ADVENT (short for ADaptive Versatile ENgine Technology) design could improve fuel efficiency by as much as 25 percent, extend flying ranges by 30 percent, and boost thrust up to 10 percent over contemporary engines.
ADVENT has been in development for some time, but engineers were just recently able to conduct tests and validate the advanced heat-resistant properties of the special composite material GE has developed for the engine's core.
Just like with a home wood stove, the hotter the temperature created inside an engine, the more energy it puts out and the more efficiently it burns its fuel. "It’s pure thermodynamics," says Rick Albrecht, manager for advanced military systems at GE Aviation.
But raising the temperature in a jet engine is not as simple as tossing another log on the fire, since jet fuel burns hotter than the melting point of even more advanced alloys used in aviation. Innovative venting and cooling techniques are used to keep jet engines from melting down in mid-air, but these systems also make the engines less efficient.
GE's answer was to develop advanced lightweight ceramics-based materials that can take the heat. Dubbed "ceramic matrix composites," CMCs are made from "silicon carbide matrix toughened with coated fibers made from the same material." GE claims CMCs outperform advanced alloys by resisting temperatures up to 2,400ºF (1,316ºC).
The ADVENT design combines this super hot-burning core with a jet engine that is essentially two types of engine in one. In one mode, ADVENT allows more air to flow through the core, resulting in increased thrust, speed and performance like that of a fighter jet. But the design also allows for that flow-through to be reduced, providing a more fuel-efficient cruising mode. For more details on how ADVENT works, see our earlier article on the technology.
While allowing fighter pilots to save Uncle Sam a few bucks on their cruise home from a mission is an obvious application, GE says CMCs could soon end up in engines used by passenger jets like the Boeing 747-8 jumbo.
“The latest GE jet engines like the LEAP, the GE9X, and even the GEnx are looking at an extensive use of CMCs,” says Dave Jeffcoat, ADVENT project manager at GE Aviation. “The tests show that we’ve picked the right technology. We are building on a solid foundation.”
|Posted by Omar Bilonashvili on February 18, 2013 at 3:55 AM||comments (0)|
The jetpack is arguably the most game-changing method of transport one could envision using technology available today. However, despite some progress, a jetpack-powered commute still seems a very long way in the future. Not to be daunted by this, Australian designer Marc Newson has turned his hand to producing a compelling jetpack design concept, dubbed the “Body Jet.”
The Body Jet boasts the designer's usual flair for beautiful simplistic style and harks back to a time when many felt jetpack travel and flying cars to be just around the corner. Indeed, rather than a toy for the rich, the Body Jet concept appears to be more comparable to Ford's iconic Model T, and could be imagined as the vehicle which finally brings jetpack travel to the masses.
Newson's design features a carbon fiber yellow and black body, with a single large engine providing thrust. A dual-joystick setup is employed for controlling the jetpack, and the Body Jet would reportedly contain enough fuel for approximately 45 - 60 minutes of air time.
The Body Jet was commissioned by a French aerospace company and remains a concept at present – fingers crossed we'll soon see such a device brought to market.
Please visit at; http://www.marc-newson.com/ProjectMosaic.aspx?GroupSelected=0
|Posted by Omar Bilonashvili on January 7, 2013 at 6:05 PM||comments (0)|
The USB 3.0 Promoter Group has used CES 2013 to announce an enhancement to the USB 3.0 (aka SuperSpeed USB) standard that will see the throughput performance of USB 3.0 double from 5 Gbps to 10 Gbps. The speed boost will come courtesy of enhanced USB connectors and cables that are fully backward compatible with existing USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 devices.
The 10 Gbps data throughput speed puts USB 3 on more of an equal footing with Thunderbolt, which also offers 10 Gbps transfer speeds. The announcement comes as more Thunderbolt-equipped devices are appearing on the market, and there will likely be a wait for USB 3.0 devices equipped to take advantage of the speed boost.
However, with major industry players such as HP, Intel, Microsoft, ST-Ericsson and Texas instruments part of the USB Promoter Group, we shouldn’t have to wait too long before 10 Gbps-capable USB 3.0 devices see the light of day.
“Microsoft has been a strong supporter of the USB community where we have advocated balancing innovation and compatibility,” said Dennis Flanagan, General Manager, Windows Ecosystem Engagement. “The planned updates to USB 3.0 are consistent with our views. These updates will enable higher data rates and allow combining of disk, high-definition audio/video and networking traffic on a single cable – all while maintaining compatibility with billions of existing devices.”
The 10 Gbps SuperSpeed USB update is up for industry review during the first quarter of 2013, with completion of the standard expected by the middle of the year.
|Posted by Omar Bilonashvili on December 15, 2012 at 12:05 PM||comments (0)|
Flush with success from their 6,000-km (3,728-mile) Europe-to-Africa round-trip flight earlier this year, the duo behind the Solar Impulse solar-powered aircraft are now planning on flying it across America next spring. It will mark the first time that a solar-powered plane has traversed the country.
Solar Impulse partners Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg made the official announcement this Tuesday, although the logistics of the flight have yet to be finalized. They have stated that the trip will be broken into 20-hour legs, starting at San Francisco and proceeding to New York City. As with their previous multi-leg flights, the two pilots will take turns flying the aircraft.
According to a report on Inhabitat, the Solar Impulse airplane (officially known as the HB-SIA) will be taken apart at its home base in Switzerland next March. It will then be packed into containers, flown in a 747 to California, and then reassembled over the course of three weeks. It is due to take off from San Francisco sometime in May.
The single-passenger 1,600-kg (3,527-lb) aircraft incorporates 11,628 solar cells on the top of its wing and horizontal stabilizer. These power its four 10-hp electric motors, and also charge its 400 kilograms (882 lbs) of lithium batteries – allowing it to fly at night. A new aircraft, the HB-SIB, is being developed for a round-the-world flight planned for 2015.
|Posted by Omar Bilonashvili on October 29, 2012 at 2:40 AM||comments (0)|
The World Technology Network summoned leading thinkers to New York's TIME Conference Center on Monday and Tuesday to announce the winners of its 2012 World Technology Summit & Awards. The awards showcase the work of innovators across a diverse array of industry sectors and scientific fields. Gizmag reveals the list of winners, which includes no shortage of familiar faces.
There were few surprises in the Space categories, with commercial orbital rocketry pioneers SpaceX seizing the corporate award. In October, SpaceX's Dragon set off for the International Space Station: the first commercial flight of its kind. Meanwhile, the individual award was given to NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer Adam Steltzner. Something of a landing specialist, given Steltzner's involvement in getting the Curiosity rover safely onto Martian ground this is hardly a mystery.
Almost as unsurprisingly, Pinterest snared the Communications Technology corporate award. By the close of 2011, then less than two years old, the social image-bookmarking site had broken into the top ten online social networking sites, reportedly driving more traffic to retailers than Google+ and LinkedIn. In the year to September 2012, web traffic to Pinterest in the US increased by a factor of 15, to nearly 140 million visits per month. The individual Communications Technology award was given to JUNET-founder, Keio University's Jun Murai.
In the IT Hardware field, 3D printer manufacturer MakerBot was the richly-deserved winner of the corporate award. The company's Replicator and Replicator 2 3D printers are commercializing, and more importantly democratizing, the process of fabrication with, frankly, mind-bending implications for society. Equally-deserved was the individual award, snapped up as it was by the University of Pennsylvania's Vijay Kumar (he of synchronized swarming quadrotor flying robot fame).
In the IT Software stakes, Leap Motion took the corporate award. Earlier this year Leap unveiled a US$70 USB device that allows hand and figure gesture-controls for home computers, apparently with 200 times the sensitivity of Microsoft's Kinect sensor. Sean Gourley of Quid was awarded the individual prize.
Barber Osgerby won the Design category, doubtless for seeing off 89 other designs to see its own chosen for the 2012 Olympic Torch (a design which scooped the Design Museum's Design of the Year award).
Harvard's Wyss Institute basically swept the biotech awards, with the school taking the (apparently loosely named) corporate award and its Director Donald Ingber (with Harvard's Judah Folkman) claiming the individual gong. Earlier this year, the Institute engineered a “gut-on-a-chip,” an in vitro device the size of a USB thumb drive designed to better replicate the human intestine's response to treatments of enteric disorders. More recently the Institute developed a “DNA barcode,” a potential breakthrough in the field of biomedical imaging.
In the Energy category, Agilyx, which has patented a scalable system for converting discarded plastics into crude oil, won the corporate award. Meanwhile, the individual gong was grabbed by Pavegen's Laurence Kemball-Cook. Pavegen produces an in-ground energy recovery system that harvests energy from the footsteps of pedestrians.
There were familiar faces, too, in the field of Health & Medicine. Ekso Bionics took the corporate award. Ekso has made stunning progress in developing exoskeletons which can help people with severe paraplegic injuries walk again. UCLA's Aydogan Ozcan, who in 2010 invented of the world's smallest and lightest telemedicine microscope, won the individual award. Earlier this year Ozcan led research into the 3D imaging of human sperm swimming patterns, discovering beyond doubt that they sometimes swim in helices.
See below for the winners list entirety, several more of which will be familiar to Gizmag readers:
Arts: Mark Coniglio – Composer/Media Artist, Co-founder Troika Ranch
Biotechnology (Individual): Donald Ingber – Director, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University; Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology, Harvard Medical School & Vascular Biology Program, Boston Children's Hospital; Professor of Bioengineering, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Biotechnology (Corporate): Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University
Comm. Technology (Individual): Jun Murai – Professor, Faculty of Environmental Information, Keio University (Japan)
Comm. Technology (Corporate) : Pinterest
Design: Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby – Founders, Barber Osgerby
Education: Cathy N. Davidson & David Theo Goldberg – Founders, HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition
Energy (Individual): Laurence Kemball-Cook – Director, Pavegen Systems
Energy (Corporate): Agilyx
Entertainment: Olivier Bau & Ivan Poupyrev – REVEL technology developers and Researchers, Disney Research, Pittsburgh
Environment (Individual): Derek Lam – DEHTLET & World Marketing Development Centre Ltd
Environment (Corporate): Bug Agentes Biologicos
Ethics: Anthony F. Beavers – Professor of Philosophy, University of Evansville
Finance (Individual): Ben Horowitz – Co-founder, Andreessen Horowitz Co-founder & CEO, Opsware
Finance (Corporate): New Enterprise Associates
Health & Medicine (Individual): Aydogan Ozcan – Professor, UCLA School of Engineering
Health & Medicine (Corporate): Ekso Bionics
IT Hardware (Individual): Vijay Kumar – Professor of Engineering, University of Pennsylvania
IT Hardware (Corporate): MakerBot
IT Software (Individual): Sean Gourley – Chief Technology Officer, Quid
IT Software (Corporate): Leap Motion
Law: Tim Wu – Professor, Columbia Law School
Marketing Communications: Joan Casas Cervero – Founder & CEO, uWhisp
Materials (Individual): Amit Goyal – Chair, UT-Battelle-ORNL Corporate Fellow Council
Materials (Corporate): Thinfilm Electronics
Media & Journalism: David Weinberger – Author, Too Big to Know & Co-Director of the Harvard Library Innovation Lab
Policy: Vivek Wadhwa – Vice President of Academics and Innovation, Singularity University
Social Entrepreneurship: Greg Van Kirk – Co-founder, Community Enterprise Solutions
Space (Individual): Adam Steltzner – NASA Engineer, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Space (Corporate): SpaceX
|Posted by Omar Bilonashvili on September 9, 2012 at 3:25 PM||comments (0)|
A team that has created a supersonic jet design resembling a flying shuriken has been awarded a US$100, 000 grant from NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program to continue development of the aircraft. Aside from looking suitably futuristic, the concept plane’s four-pointed star design serves a practical purpose. By rotating in mid air, the plane can transition between broad-wing subsonic and shorter wingspan supersonic configurations.
Aircraft design is usually a compromise between subsonic and supersonic performance. At low speeds, broad wings provide more lift and help minimize takeoff distance, while swept back wings with a smaller profile enhance performance at high speeds. Variable-sweep wing (or swing wing) aircraft, such as the F-14 Tomcat and B-1 Lancer, get around this with wings that are spread broadly at takeoff and low speeds and can be swept back while in flight for improved performance at high speeds.
The supersonic bi-directional flying wing (SBiDir-FW) aircraft tackles the problem in a different way. It would take off in one orientation with broader wings, before rotating 90 degrees in flight to transition to high-speed mode with a shorter wing span.
“No matter how fast a supersonic plane can fly, it needs to take off and land at very low speed, which severely hurts the high-speed supersonic performance for a conventional airplane,” said Ge-Chen Zha, a professor in the University of Miami’s College of Engineering and principal investigator of the project. “The SBiDir-FW removes this performance conflict by rotating the airplane to fly in two different directions at subsonic and supersonic. Such rotation enables the SBiDir-FW to achieve superior performance at both supersonic and subsonic speeds.”
While conventional commercial aircraft consist of a tube-shaped fuselage attached to two wings that responsible for generating lift, as a flying wing, the entire surface of the SBiDir-FW is used to generate lift. Passengers and cargo would be contained within the wide span, thick, rounded airfoil used at low speeds, while the high-speed wing would have a shorter span and a thin-sharp-edged airfoil to reduce drag at supersonic speed.
The aircraft would rotate into supersonic configuration by folding winglets attached to the end of the wings in subsonic configuration. Folding them up again would see the aircraft rotate back again to subsonic orientation once again. The engine pod on the back of the aircraft would also be rotated when switching modes.
Zha hopes his SBiDir-FW will produce no sonic boom, have low supersonic wave drag, and low fuel consumption. A preliminary computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation for a SBiDir-FW business jet indicates that at speeds of Mach 1.6 to 2.0, there is no sonic boom.
“I am hoping to develop an environmentally friendly and economically viable airplane for supersonic civil transport in the next 20 to 30 years,” said Zha. “Imagine flying from New York to Tokyo in four hours instead of 15 hours.”
The $100,000 NIAC grant is intended to help the research team refine the aircraft design using CFD, examine the feasibility of the design, and conduct wind tunnel testing to verify the aircraft’s performance at supersonic speeds and its sonic boom signature. If all goes well, the team will be eligible for an addition $500,000 to continue development of the aircraft.
Sources: NASA, University of Miami via Dvice
|Posted by Omar Bilonashvili on February 13, 2012 at 8:30 AM||comments (0)|
Want to get your computer to run faster? Well, consider its graphics processing unit (GPU) and central processing unit (CPU). The two work away at their own tasks, each one rarely helping the other shoulder its workload. Researchers from North Carolina State University, however, are in the process of changing that. They have already developed a technique that allows GPUs and CPUs located on a single chip to collaborate on tasks, and it has resulted in a processing speed increase of over 20 percent.
Placing GPUs and CPUs on the same chip is not entirely new - chip manufacturers have already been doing this for some time, in order to lower manufacturing costs and increase computers' energy efficiency. Their being together like that, however, has made the new technique possible. Basically, the process allows the two systems to share computing tasks, each one concentrating on what it does best.
"Our approach is to allow the GPU cores to execute computational functions, and have CPU cores pre-fetch the data the GPUs will need from off-chip main memory," said Dr. Huiyang Zhou, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. "This is more efficient because it allows CPUs and GPUs to do what they are good at. GPUs are good at performing computations. CPUs are good at making decisions and flexible data retrieval."
In tests performed so far, the technique has been shown to improve processor performance by an average of 21.4 percent.