Raytheon in underwater UAV shocker

Tom James @ 27-10-2008

Kudos and congrats to the US military industrial complex for continuing to output such consistently high quality James-Bondworthy widgets and gizmos. The latest is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle from arms megacorp Raytheon that can be launched from a submarine without having to surface:

The new U-UAV is dubbed SOTHOC, for Submarine Over the Horizon Organic Capabilities. The launch system works by deploying a sealed can through the sub’s waste disposal lock. The can then sinks away safely to get clear of the boat. On reaching a preset depth it dumps weight to become positively buoyant and ascends to the surface. Once stable at the surface, it aligns itself into wind and launches a one-shot, disposable UAV.

Gawd bless America for supplying the rest of the worlds military hardware geeks with a consistent supply of goodness with no only minimal risk to our own person (unless you live in one of the Axis of Evil countries).

Peace out.

[from the Register][image from Ardyiii on flickr]


Nothing says “future” like a big fat airship

Tom James @ 25-09-2008

As Charles Stross says, “Zeppelins have always been an icon of futurism” and I’ve always wondered why the heck we haven’t gotten over the Hindenburg and moved in to our Bright New Future. The Register gives us the lowdown on all the various engineering problems that need to be overcome for airships to be viable as a mass transport system, and how engineers are trying to solve them:

A Ukrainian airship visionary based in California has won further US military funding to develop his miraculous “Aeroscraft” sky-leviathan design. However, some question marks remain over the craft’s unique – almost miraculous – buoyancy-control technology.

[image from the Register story]


Dude, where’s my flying car?

Edward Willett @ 24-07-2008

Jetson It’s become a cliche to ask why we don’t have flying cars yet, since they’ve been a dream of science fiction writers and gadgeteers for decades. It’s not easy to build a flying car, that’s why–but Moller International has been working on it for years and has announced that it is in the process of completing its fourth “Jetson”–well, they don’t call it a flying car, they call it a “volantor airframe,” but still–and expects to complete forty of them by 2009. And Moller, as a glance at its website will reveal, has much bigger plans down the road for their flagship design, the M400 Skycar. (Via Gizmodo.)

The two-passenger, saucer-shaped M200G Jetson is designed for operation at up to 10 feet above the ground (so its operators don’t need pilot’s licenses), uses fly-by-wire technology (meaning a computer takes care of all the tricky control stuff and you just have to point it where you want to go) and:

can take-off and land vertically, is the size of a small automobile, operates vibration-free with little noise and is also qualified to travel short distances on the ground as an automobile as well. The prototype M200X has completed over two hundred flights with and without a pilot on board and can be seen flying here. In addition to the M200G, the Company plans to offer the M200E, a kit-built version of its Jetson aircraft with sales beginning in 2010. The M200E will not have the same software enabled altitude constraints as the M200G and the Company expects the M200E to be operable as an Experimental class aircraft.

The eight rotary engines give the Jetson a cruising speed of 75 miles per hour, a maximum speed of 100, a range of 100 miles, and a cargo capacity of up to 250 pounds. The engines operate on unleaded gasoline and can also be configured to run on other fuels.

If you want one, you have to identify yourself as a


Making Our Future as Better Ancestors

Tom Marcinko @ 02-06-2008

StonehengeIt seems to be the custom for new Futurismic posters to introduce themselves. I don’t see race, sex, age, residence, politics, or preferences. But people tell me I’m a 53-year-old white guy who lives in Arizona, leans to the left, and likes fiction, history, journalism, science, The Loud Family and The New Pornographers, and I believe them.

The birth of yet another niece puts me in mind of Samantha Powers’ recent commencement advice: “Be a good ancestor.” One way to do that might be to start treating the environment as part of the economy, by putting a dollar value on it. A report to the U.N. Commission on Biodiversity estimates that humans do at least $78 billion worth of damage each year, “eating away at our nature capital” through deforestation and pollution. Sobering to consider that about 40% of the world economy is still based on biological products and processes.

In light of the likely first contact with an uncontacted seminomadic Amazon tribe on the borderlands of Brazil and Peru, we probably need to factor cultural diversity into the equation, too. There’s something poignant and human about that AP photo of tribespeople firing arrows at an aircraft.

Think about all our ancestors have done for us. The origin and purpose of Stonehenge is no longer a total mystery, according to recent investigations: it served as a cemetary for at least 500 years beginning 5,000 years ago. It may have functioned for 20 or 30 generations as the resting place of a ruling dynasty. At least 300 surrounding homes made it one of the largest villages in northwestern Europe.

Ancestor-worship as big business? If that’s not old enough for you, consider a 375-million-year-old ancestor called the placoderm fish, with a fossil embryo attached with an umbilical cord. It’s the oldest known instance of live birth. Now think what our moms put up with, bringing us into the world. [Image by Danny Sullivan]


Travel hypersonically from the EU to Australia in 5 hours

Tomas Martin @ 07-02-2008

Fancy a quick day trip halfway across the world?The guardian has a technology article about a UK study on hypersonic aviation that concluded that producing a plane fueled by liquid hydrogen could feasibly transport commercial passengers on long distances in much shorter times than current planes. Provided the hydrogen is created without using hydrocarbons (not easy currently but potentially doable in the future), the flight will be pollution-low, as hydrogen burns to form plain old water, although as the correction to the article mentions, Nitrogen oxide byproducts would still need to be contained.

There are issues though, before we can hop on a sub-orbital or hypersonic flight. Like the Virgin Galactic project, there are concerns about how well us puny humans can cope up there in high-atmosphere at very fast speeds. And, like Paul said earlier today, the future is expensive, including that of flight – will people be willing to pay many times more for such a ticket? Incidentally, isn’t it neat that the design looks and behaves just like the ‘Fireflash’ hypersonic airliner out of Thunderbirds? Supermarionation is the future!

[link and picture via the guardian]


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