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Drones for Mars Exploration

The European Space Agency (ESA) has developed a ‘crash-proof’ drone to fly on missions to Mars and beyond.

The new drones could one day help Martian settlers explore lava tubes on the planet by mapping out tight spots that humans cannot reach.

The drone, surrounded by a protective spherical cage and equipped with thermal cameras, deliberately bumps into its surroundings in order to build a 3D-map.

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The European Space Agency (ESA) has developed a 'crash-proof' drone (pictured) to fly on missions to Mars and beyond. It is pictured being tested in a cave in Sicily

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Catamaran Windsurfing

The Wave Chaser is designed to blend the best of catamaran and windsurfing design
The Wave Chaser is designed to blend the best of catamaran and windsurfing design (Credit: Wave Chaser)

Whether you’re a high-speed thrill seeker or absolute beginner, windsurfing is a solo sport, but an Australian team is working on a fresh new design which changes that. The Wave Chaser is a twin-rig planing hull catamaran, designed to show how catamaran tech could combine with windsurfing to create a new, exciting craft. read more

World’s Thinnest Hologram

Created on a material just 25 nanometers thick, the world's thinnest hologram (not pictured) could lead ...
Created on a material just 25 nanometers thick, the world’s thinnest hologram (not pictured) could lead to films that overlay on a screen to create 3D images (Credit: sellingpix/Depositphotos)

True holograms – 3D images captured like photographs – are still a long way from replicating the flashy stage tricks that masquerade under the title. Although most holograms are still pretty tiny, a team from Australia’s RMIT and the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) have created the world’s thinnest holographic display, encoding a 3D image onto a material just 25 nanometers thick. read more

Stretchable Hologram

For Star Wars fans, Princess Leia’s holographic message to Obi-Wan Kenobi asking for help is a pivotal moment in the 1977 Star Wars film Episode IV: A New Hope.

But it is only now that the technology enabling her desperate plea stands a chance of becoming a reality.

Engineers have created stretchable holograms that can change from one image to another, offering the tantalizing possibility that holographic videos may one day be possible.

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Scientists have created holograms that can change from one image to another as the materials used to generate them are stretched (pictured) which could lend themselves to animation 
Scientists have created holograms that can change from one image to another as the materials used to generate them are stretched (pictured) which could lend themselves to animation

CHANGING IMAGES 

The researchers calculated how much a holographic image expands as the material generating it stretches, and how far the image plane moves away from its original position.

Based on these findings, the team created multi-layered holograms made up of two or three different images.

This means that as the surface stretches, one image appears in the place of another.

Using this method, they created a hologram that showed a pentagon in its relaxed state, which transformed into a square, and then a triangle when pulled.

Scientists from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (SEAS) at the University of Pennsylvania used metasurfaces – flat, ultra-thin surfaces – to make their holograms.

They built on their previous work in creating 3D and multi-color holograms by embedding tiny gold rods in a stretchable film.

This helped them understand how holographic images change with stretching and to see if they could use this information to create a hologram that can switch between images.

Weapon Wednesday – New Nano-Drone

Fight time is around 15 minutes, with a top speed of 22 mph and a range ...
Fight time is around 15 minutes, with a top speed of 22 mph and a range of 1 kilometer (Credit: AeroVironment)  

AeroVironment’s new Snipe Nano Quadrotor is a man-packable drone with the potential to be carried by every foot soldier, vastly increasing situational awareness and individual capability. The Snipe will also be available commercially later this year for police, first responders and all those who need to be able to see what’s happening in places they cannot safely go.

Announced at AUVSI in Dallas today, the Snipe Nano Quad UAS weighs just 140 grams (5 oz) and fits into a small hard case light enough to be carried – though AeroVironment has not yet disclosed the weight of the entire UAS including the ruggedized touch screen controller. read more

New Roof-Top Tent

We had a total of eight roof-top tents split between the trucks, SUVs and trailers
We had a total of eight roof-top tents split between the trucks, SUVs and trailers

Long popular in other countries, roof-top tents (RTTs) are having their moment in the US. The Santa Cruz-based innovators at Tepui are doing their best to turn that moment into a movement. The company is heavily invested in expanding the RTT market out from hardcore overlanders to the masses of general outdoor lovers and festival campers. read more

Virgin Space Plane

VSS Unity returning from its feather test flight
VSS Unity returning from its feather test flight (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity suborbital spacecraft took to the skies over the Mojave desert in an unpowered flight test of the ship’s feather re-entry system. Piloted by Mark Stucky and Mike Masucci, the glide test is the fourth independent flight and the eighth total flight of the craft, which is designed to carry paying passengers on brief excursions to the edge of space. read more

Knightscope Security Robot

At just 5ft, they may not seem like the most imposing security guards, but they could soon be patrolling shopping centers around the world.

The Knightscope K5 robots are the creation of a Silicon Valley startup firm and have been specially designed for fighting crime.

And the company says it has just signed a deal which will see the droids roll out across 16 cities.

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Knightscope has just signed a deal which will see its K5 security droids (pictured) roll out to shopping malls across 16 cities in the United States. And they could one day become a common sight in shopping precincts worldwide
Knightscope has just signed a deal which will see its K5 security droids (pictured) roll out to shopping malls across 16 cities in the United States. And they could one day become a common sight in shopping precincts worldwide

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Electric Flyer

The Kitty Hawk Flyer being flown by Cimeron Morrissey in the company's slick promo video
The Kitty Hawk Flyer being flown by Cimeron Morrissey in the company’s slick promo video (Credit: Kitty Hawk)

Silicon Valley startup Kitty Hawk – backed by Google’s Larry Page, who also threw his weight behind a rotor-based flying car a few years back – has released a video showing off the prototype of an upcoming all-electric personal flying machine it’s calling The Flyer. The company says that users won’t need to secure a pilot’s license to fly the eight rotor vehicle, and promises a swift learning curve. read more