Engineers have dreamed of blurring the lines between airplanes and helicopters for years. Planes, with their lift-generating wings and forward flight, offer great speed and efficiency. Helicopters, with powerful rotors and compact bodies, can take off and land from small platforms, rather than long runways. Getting the best of both worlds is hard in aircraft that carry people inside. It's much easier in drones, especially when those same drones borrow half a body from crowd favorite Star Wars fighter, the X-Wing.
Global Hawks were built for the still skies above wars. The surveillance drones, America's largest, fly in the calmer altitudes of around 60,000 feet above the ground, where they can wait for over a day, cameras pointed down, watching. The same characteristics that make a Global Hawk a useful tool of war against insurgents also lend its power as a storm watcher. NASA has a Global Hawk, painted bright white and not Air Force gray — and last week it flew over a tropical storm Gaston, determining it was, in fact, a hurricane.
Shipping drones capture the imagination unlike almost any robot. We see visions of skies filled with small robots, worrying and planning for the day packages that come by aircraft directly to our doorstep Yet most drones can't really carry all that much, and are built for cargoes of around a few pounds. To truly compete with, rather than just supplement, other delivery technologies, drones will need to go bigger.
Drone law is about to do something unusual: today, with the opening of a commercial waiver system by the FAA, legally flying a drone for business is about to get easier, in the US at least. The change was announced in June, and takes place today. For people who want to fly a drone for business, there is now a straightforward process, instead of a mess of conflicting and unclear rules.
Russia's Tigr is a decade-old armored car. Seating 10 soldiers inside with gear, the Tigr's primary missions is to get Russian forces safely to where they need to be, across rough terrain. Since it was made to be filled with people, the newest design takes the Tigr in an odd direction. Instead of a human-driven troop carrier, the latest Tigr model is a remotely controlled gun-firing robot.