In hard-to-reach war zones, it can be near impossible to get supplies to ground soldiers or conduct rescue missions without coming under enemy fire or landing in minefields.
Spurred by these logistical issues, the US Department of Defense in its DARPA division is pushing to develop unmanned helicopter-like aircraft -- aka drones -- for supply runs, airborne reconnaissance missions, and casualty evacuations.
Not your ordinary drones, these futuristic machines will be designed to carry up to 3,000 pounds, have their own power system, fuel, digital flight controls, and remote command-and-control interfaces. As envisioned by DARPA, troops will be able … Read more
BMW is known for making very lovely, aspirational cars. The BMW roundel on your key ring is a sign that you've worked hard, done well for yourself, and are leading a complete, happy life.
Happy people of the world can rejoice now, too, as there's a new aspect to the roundel. It's the letter "i," and in BMW-speak it means "eco." There are currently two I cars in the offing, the superfuturistic i8 and the available-to-buy-now i3.
The i3 is a small thing, ideal for bimbling around the city, parking in awkward spaces, … Read more
LAS VEGAS -- At last year's CES, the topic of driverless cars came up from Audi and Lexus, but it was largely talk. Just one year later, we are seeing real-world demonstrations of the technology. New platforms for app integration in cars were also on display, as was an exciting new trend, letting drivers get information and control some car functions with a smartwatch.
Audi and BMW, along with automotive suppliers Bosch and Valeo, demonstrated some driverless car technologies. Rather than a fully enabled autonomous vehicle that can drive across town by itself, these demonstrations focused on next-generation features … Read more
At the Consumer Electronics Show, the automotive company on Monday talked up its big bet for electric cars: fuel cell technology, which boasts no emissions but water vapor. The cars will hit the market in 2015, Toyota said.
While a competitor like Tesla uses pure battery power to make its vehicles run, Toyota's offering -- the first of its kind to be put on sale for consumers -- uses hydrogen to generate electricity on board the car. In layman's terms, here's how it works: Pure hydrogen is pumped into the tank and combined with air to create water, a reaction that also produces electricity. The fuel cell channels the electricity to a drive motor, powering the car.… Read more
LAS VEGAS -- My first few times driving a car with adaptive cruise control, I nervously kept my foot hovering over the brake as I approached traffic ahead. Riding in Audi's A7, fitted with a test version of its Piloted Driving feature, was like that, but more so.
As Audi's autonomous driving technology is still under development, I wasn't in the driver's seat. I watched as a brave Audi staffer pushed a button, then took his hands off the wheel. The car used its forward-looking radars and laser to "see" traffic ahead, a windshield-mounted … Read more
The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday designated six projects across the US for research into drones, the unmanned aircraft that have the potential to alter everything from package delivery to surveillance.
The government agency conducted a 10-month review before naming the sites -- the University of Alaska, the state of Nevada, Griffiss International Airport in New York, the North Dakota Department of Commerce, Texas A&M University's Corpus Christi campus, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Each will be open to various parties who want to test the aircraft, subject to constraints involving safety, privacy, and civil rights.
Drones, also … Read more
Samsung is at least thinking about the future of electric vehicles, according to recent patent filings unearthed by the Wall Street Journal.
The consumer electronics giant has filed for several patents in both the US and South Korea this year related to electric vehicles, in areas ranging from engines to onboard electronics, and even tires, the Journal has discovered. Although Samsung acknowledged that the patents have been filed, it told the Journal that it has no plans to actually deliver electric vehicles to the market.
Plans (and "no plans") do change, or course. Sometimes, companies file for patents … Read more
In the future, Mustang Sally might be a robot.
Ford Motor unveiled its first self-driving car this week -- well, a prototype anyway. The Automated Fusion Hybrid Research Vehicle, developed with the University of Michigan and State Farm insurers, will help the storied US automaker "test the limits of full automation and determine the appropriate levels for near- and mid-term deployment," Raj Nair, group vice president, Ford global product development, said in a statement.… Read more
A Cambridge, Mass.-based startup is ready to bring some of the virtues of electricto the bicycle business.
On Tuesday, Superpedestrian began selling the Copenhagen Wheel, a rear wheel for a bicycle that converts the energy of braking and descending into a battery-powered boost when it's time to go uphill or to go faster along the flats. The first products are scheduled to ship at the end of the first quarter of 2014.
The 12-pound Copenhagen Wheel is available for $699 in a single-gear configuration, but it'll cost more for those who want to slip on a cassette with multiple gears. The first 1,000 of them are being hand-built now and will be available for mountain bike and road bike wheel sizes. … Read more