Record-breaking Perlan 2 glider soars ever closer to the edge of space


The Perlan 2 glider in action during a record-breaking flight last week.

Airbus’ Perlan 2 glider is continuing to push the limits of engineless flight, hitting a succession of record altitudes throughout the last week, culminating in a unprecedented 76,000-ft (23,000-m) climb on Sunday.

The overarching objective of the Perlan project is to harness what are known as stratospheric mountain waves to soar upwards to the edge of space without using an engine. These powerful airstreams are created when winds collide with tall mountain ranges and are diverted upwards.

The Perlan 2 engineless glider is built to leverage these waves with an ultralight construction that tips the scales at just 1,100 lb (500 kg) when empty, and a generous wingspan of 84 ft (27 m). Following its maiden flight in Oregon in 2015, when it reached an altitude of 5,000 ft (1,524 m) after being released from its towplane, the team promptly set its sights on far, far greater heights.

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4 futuristic transport methods that will change how we travel around the world


Since the invention of air travel, the world has felt like a smaller place – it’s now possible for pretty much anyone to fly around the globe, learning about different countries and cultures. It’s pretty amazing.

But some companies aren’t satisfied with this – they want to make the world seem even smaller, with faster, more efficient and more comfortable methods of transport.

Ever dreamed of exploring the Australian Outback but been put off by the long flight? A Virgin Galactic flight from London to Sydney might take two hours within the next decade.

Here are four methods of futuristic transportation that are going to change how we travel around the world.

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Rolls-Royce is developing tiny ‘cockroach’ robots to crawl in and fix airplane engines


The U.K. engineer said the miniature technology can improve the way maintenance is carried out by speeding up inspections and eliminating the need to remove an engine from an aircraft for repair work to take place.

To explore the concept, the Rolls-Royce has teamed up with robotics experts at Harvard University in the U.S. and the University of Nottingham in England.

Rolls-Royce said Tuesday it is developing tiny “cockroach” robots that can crawl inside aircraft engines to spot and fix problems.

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All-electric flying car is clear for takeoff in the U.S. and Canada

The future is shaping up to be a serious trade-off instead of the tech-powered paradise we were promised in the 1950s. Case in point: the year 2018 should be shot into the Sun to ensure complete and total disintegration, but in 2018 we’re also finally realizing our vision of flying cars. Yay?

“BlackFly” is the latest flying car with a flashy demo reel, and it certainly does look impressive. All-electric, operable without a pilot’s license (unless you’re in Canada), and, according to the press release, fully amphibious? Sign us up. Silicon Valley company Opener—funded by Google co-founder Larry Page—is producing the vehicle in the hopes of revolutionizing personal travel by allowing users to travel at over 60 miles per hour for 25 miles at a time, and all at the price point of an SUV.

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Flying trains could be coming your way

French firm has designed an airplane with removable wings.

It’s presenting plane to Boeing, Asia to cut Europe dependence.

It sounds like something Q, the tech guy in James Bond movies, would create: A plane that lands on a runway, shrugs its wings off, turns into a train and rolls on to rails to drop you off at your local station.

Continue reading… “Flying trains could be coming your way”

Flight attendants have higher rates of many cancers, study says

Flight attendants are exposed to a number of known cancer-causing risks, but few studies have rigorously quantified that risk, and researchers say they are an understudied occupational group.

The Harvard Flight Attendant Health Study (FAHS), begun in 2007, addresses some of the gaps in understanding health risks among flight attendants. In the latest report, published in the journal Environmental Health, researchers found that flight attendants had higher rates of many cancers, including breast cancer and melanoma, compared to the general population.

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Uber shows its flying car prototype, which looks like a giant drone

Uber has unveiled its “flying car” concept aircraft at its second annual Uber Elevate Summit, which showcases prototypes for its fleet of airborne taxis.

The flying cars, which the company hopes to introduce to riders in two to five years, will conduct vertical takeoffs and landings from skyports, air stations on rooftops or the ground. Ultimately, company officials say these skyports will be equipped to handle 200 takeoffs and landings an hour, or one every 24 seconds. At first, the flying cars will be piloted, but the company aims for the aircraft to fly autonomously.

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The flying car backed by Google’s cofounder just got a big update, and people can pilot it with less than an hour’s training


Kitty Hawk, the mysterious flying-car startup funded by the Google cofounder Larry Page, unwrapped its updated vehicle on Wednesday.

The Flyer is now open for test flights for prospective customers, and the CNN reporter Rachel Crane was the first journalist allowed to pilot the vehicle.

Kitty Hawk promises to get people in the air in less than an hour because of the Flyer’s simple control system, which comprises just two joysticks.

The startup’s CEO said that securing public acceptance for the Flyer is its biggest priority and that he hopes to learn a lot from the test flights.

Continue reading… “The flying car backed by Google’s cofounder just got a big update, and people can pilot it with less than an hour’s training”

Isreal’s self -flying ‘Cormorant’ whisks wounded soldiers to safety


Tactical Robotics’ Cormorant can carry up to 1,000 pounds and offers a range of 20 miles while flying at more than 100 mph.TACTICAL ROBOTS

FIVE MEN IN white overalls lifted the stretcher off the ground, one of them taking care to lay a clear plastic IV bag that’s connected to the patient onto his stomach. They marched him toward what looks like a black inflatable dinghy on small wheels, crossed with a fly. The stretcher was loaded in through a hatch on the side, and then the men stood back.

The patient was actually a medical training mannequin, but that didn’t stop him (it, rather) from taking part in the first “mission representative” demonstration of a new aircraft. That bean-shaped thing is called the Cormorant, and it was built by Israel-based Tactical Robotics to make battlefield evacuations—which today rely on helicopters—quicker and safer, thanks to a new design and the fact that there’s no human pilot involved.

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Here are the most amazing flying car designs featured at Uber’s elevate conference


Aircraft makers—from multinational giants to garage startups—offer a crazy variety of visions for air taxis that Uber might use.

The early days of flight saw a huge variety of designs—featuring oddities like planes with what we now call the “tail” in the front of the vehicle. After a few decades, the industry settled on the standard forms we recognize today based on cost and efficiency. But today electric technologies have made it possible to widen the space of what’s possible in terms of style, design, and material. “We’re at the same exciting period where we’re like, ‘Well, what is this supposed to look like?’” says Mark Moore, director of engineering, vehicle systems for the Uber Elevate air taxi program. “And no one, including myself, really knows the answer.”

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Tomorrow’s airplane cabins could be more luxurious than your apartment


Let’s face it, flying is often a chore. Those tiny seats. That limited legroom. And airlines’ constant push to make the flying experience more miserable.

That reality seems really far from the potential future presented at last week’s 12th annual Crystal Cabin Awards, a ceremony honoring innovative aircraft cabin concepts in Hamburg, Germany. These designs make today’s first class look totally pedestrian.

Continue reading… “Tomorrow’s airplane cabins could be more luxurious than your apartment”

Rocket Lab readies its first commercial launch


Rocket Lab’s Electron booster stands on the launchpad during testing

Following a successful January test launch that saw its Electron booster reach orbit for the first time, Rocket Lab is now getting down to business. The US-based private space firm and its wholly owned New Zealand-based subsidiary have announced plans to go ahead with its first fully commercial mission, with the launch window to open later this month.

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