Innovation We Get Behind

When you have kids, you need eyes in the back of your head. Likewise, it helps if you have them in the back of your car too. The all-new Infiniti Q45 does — it’s the first car equipped with rear-view television. Shift into reverse, and a screen on the instrument panel — which doubles as the navigation display — shows what’s behind you so you don’t hit it.
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Fuel Cells Take a Big Step

A major reason you don’t drive a fuel cell car already: There’s nowhere to get a tankful of hydrogen. This infrastructure problem is not lost on General Motors engineers, who’ve found a new source: the local filling station. They developed a catalytic device that strips hydrogen from regular gasoline. It’s not as efficient as pure hydrogen, but it produces 50 percent better fuel economy. Demonstrated in a prototype Chevy S-10 this year, the advance brings fuel cells one step closer to the family car.

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Inflatables Catch Some Air

Not only are this plane’s wings made of plastic, they inflate like a balloon . . . in midflight. No, it’s not some daredevil stunt; it’s a NASA plane that may someday be dropped from spacecraft orbiting other planets. During a successful flight earlier this year, a nitrogen canister inflated the I2000’s 32-inch-long wings in a third of a second. It marked the first time an aircraft’s wings have ever been inflated in flight.
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King of the High Society

The world altitude record for nonrocket-powered aircraft, formerly held by the Air Force’s mighty SR-71 Blackbird, was shattered this summer by a flying wing. The unmanned Helios aircraft, made up of 14 propellers and 65,000 solar cells, averaged 25 miles an hour as it climbed 96,500 feet over the Hawaiian islands, three times the cruising altitude of a commercial airliner and 10,000 feet past the previous record. Next, engineers are planning to equip it with a fuel cell, allowing for multiday flights above 50,000 feet.
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Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles

Boeing’s X-45 Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) is the first of its type — a fighter plane without a pilot. Military experts say UCAVs will play a key role in future warfare, because they are smaller, lighter, cheaper, and more agile than piloted aircraft. Unmanned combat planes are envisioned as a “first day of the war” strike force capable of attacking enemy air defenses without risking pilots’ lives. Boeing’s UCAV, sponsored by DARPA and the Air Force, underwent ground tests this year and may have begun flight tests by the time you read this. A Navy UCAV designed by Northrop Grumman will soon follow. UCAVs could enter service as early as 2010.
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Discover the Hidden Patterns of Tomorrow with Futurist Thomas Frey
Unlock Your Potential, Ignite Your Success.

By delving into the futuring techniques of Futurist Thomas Frey, you’ll embark on an enlightening journey.

Learn More about this exciting program.