It's an aviation story so cool we're kind of upset we didn't hear about it a month ago when it happened. Back on August 12th electrical and aerospace engineer Pascal Chretien, working with the backing of French company Solution F, made the world's first untethered, all-electric manned helicopter flight. And it didn't even show up on our radars--probably because he only reached an altitude of about one metre.
This summer's crippling famine in Somalia, which has killed tens of thousands of people and led half a million more to seek refuge in Kenya, is notable for many reasons - but the theft and sale of life-saving aid is arguably one of the worst. A new project could be one way to prevent such atrocity in the future: Use drones to drop food and drugs right where they're needed, no human intervention required. Enter the Matternet.
Back on August 11th DARPA launched, then lost, its Falcon hypersonic vehicle, also known as HTV-2. Today we found it. Not the actual glider, but a video of it streaking through the sky over the Pacific Ocean as captured by a crew member aboard a tracking ship. And as you can see in this video, it is indeed moving fast.
Commanding an army of drones is one thing; letting drones command themselves is something else entirely, especially when they have very little in common. Boeing recently tested a swarm network to help disparate drones work together, sending two types of unmanned aerial vehicles on a reconnaissance mission over eastern Oregon.
Last week, DARPA's HTV-2 (Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2) Falcon vehicle launched to near-orbital speeds aboard a Minotaur rocket before beginning what was designed to be a Mach 20 glide back to earth, demonstrating the kind of hypersonic capability needed to deliver a payload anywhere in the world in an hour. Then, a few minutes into its flight, HTV-2's data transmitters went silent and so did the DARPA news stream feeding us the play-by-play.