Connect with us

Aerospace

Boeing To Acquire Autonomous Aerospace Tech Developer Aurora Flight Sciences

Boeing recently announced that it will soon acquire aerospace tech developer and manufacturer Aurora Flight Sciences. The move has been reported as part of an effort to boost Boeing’s autonomous flight and robotic aircraft development plans. Will this acquisition advance the development of pilotless planes and other futuristic flight technology?

Image Source: Wikimedia

From DARPA To Flying Taxis

Boeing has many reasons to be interested in Aurora’s team. Over the last thirty years, the Manassas, VA aerospace tech company has been working on systems and technology that range from vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capable aircraft to autonomous flying taxi drones for Uber. The company also does a significant amount of business advancing military aircraft and successfully competing for contract jobs with NASA and DARPA.

Taking Previous Collaborations To A New Level

In a recent press release, Boeing cited the pursuit of developing future autonomous aerospace technology for commercial and military uses. The aerospace giant also stressed Aurora’s contributions to, and innovation in, unmanned aircraft systems, electric propulsion, and rapid prototyping—a service which Aurora and Boeing have previously collaborated. Once the acquisition is complete, Aurora Flight Sciences will become a subsidiary of Boeing Engineering, Test & Technology and will retain its own operating model but with access to Boeing’s resources.

Image Source: Engadget

What’s In Store For Military And Commercial Aircraft?

While sources predict that the acquisition will have its greatest impact on Boeing’s defense developments, there may be some autonomous stirrings when it comes to the company’s commercial developments. Will pilotless commercial flights and flying ride share vehicles become a foreseeable reality as a direct result of this deal?

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3b_YQgfa7OA[/embedyt]

Comment and tell us what you think.

Article Sources

https://www.engadget.com
http://boeing.mediaroom.com
https://www.washingtonpost.com

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Aerospace

Perseverance Touchdown On Mars A Triumph of Aerospace Technology

On Feb. 18, 2021, years of work by aerospace scientists culminated in a successful landing of the newest Mars rover Perseverance. The semi-autonomous vehicle had been traveling the solar system toward the red planet since a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket propelled it off Earth on July 30, 2020. Perseverance features several improvements over its predecessor Curiosity and has transported a helicopter to Mars that will soon attempt a flight in the Martian atmosphere.

Versatile Semi-Autonomous Robot

At roughly the size of a small car, Perseverance carries many types of equipment meant to analyze soil, search for microbes, record audio, and take pictures and video. Its robotic arm includes a coring drill. The rover carries 23 cameras.

Its semi-autonomous software represents a big advance over Curiosity. Perseverance can plan its own routes as it explores the surface and therefore cover more ground every day due to not needing to wait for instructions from Earth.

The powered descent stage being assembled for the Mars 2020 mission seen at NASA’s JPL on June 10, 2018 in Pasadena, California. This will be the final stage to bring Mars 2020’s rover “Perseverance” to the Martian surface from 200 miles an hour, to 2 miles an hour. Credit: Bluesnote

Perseverance includes an upgrade to its wheels intended to prevent the wheel wear problems experienced by Curiosity. The new rover’s wheels are 1 mm thicker and have a different tread pattern. Engineers expect the new tread design to perform well on sand and resist damage from moving across sharp rocks.

Historic Helicopter Flight Planned

Perseverance has succeeded in deploying the helicopter Ingenuity. The 2 kg helicopter has sent signals to Earth confirming its readiness to operate. Currently, Ingenuity remains connected to Perseverance which continues to charge the helicopter’s lithium batteries. Once the helicopter separates from the rover and attempts flight, it will rely on its solar panels for recharging. Should Ingenuity succeed in flight, it will represent the first controlled flight in a non-Earth atmosphere.

Credit: NASA

Are you inspired by the success of this Mars mission? What aerospace advances do think will come next?

ABOUT Curiosity

Curiosity is about the size of a small SUV — 10 feet long (not including the arm), 9 feet wide and 7 feet tall — (about 3 meters long (not including the arm), 2.7 meters wide, and 2.2 meters tall), or about the height of a basketball player.  It weighs 899 kg (1,982 lbs in Earth gravity; 743 lbs in Mars gravity). Features a Geology lab, rocker-bogie suspension, rock-vaporizing laser and lots of cameras and it’s mission to search areas of Mars for past or present conditions favorable for life, and conditions capable of preserving a record of life.

The prime mission lasted one Mars year or about 23 Earth months, and Curiosity continues to operate on Mars today.

ABOUT Mars

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System, being larger than only Mercury. In English, Mars carries the name of the Roman god of war and is often referred to as the “Red Planet“.

The latter refers to the effect of the iron oxide prevalent on Mars’s surface, which gives it a reddish appearance distinctive among the astronomical bodies visible to the naked eye. Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere, with surface features reminiscent of the impact craters of the Moon and the valleys, deserts and polar ice caps of Earth.

Article Sources

https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/aerospace/robotic-exploration/nasa-pers…
https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/nasa-s-mars-helicopter-reports-in
https://www.universetoday.com/150224/the-mars-helicopter-is-online-and-gett…
https://www.space.com/perseverance-mars-rover-landing-success

Continue Reading

Aerospace

Electric Aircraft Makers Planning Affordable Shuttle Services

Aerospace engineers increasingly envision city skies buzzing quietly with electric air taxis. Known as eVTOL vehicles, or electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, the zero-emission aircraft can launch and land like helicopters, but without the noise and fossil fuel consumption. Investors foresee them operating from urban “vertiports” that connect with large airports or shuttle people between regional cities. Electric aircraft could cost less to use than helicopters and provide a viable transportation option to the public.

Speed And Range Capabilities

Archer, an eVTOL startup, expects to unveil its first aircraft in 2024. Designers say that it will have a range of about 60 miles and be capable of a maximum speed of 150 mph. A 1-hour car ride could become a 15 or 20-minute flight.

Heavy eVTOL Investment

Seeing potential in these small, short-range passenger vehicles, United Airlines has invested in the eVTOL startup Archer and ordered 200 aircraft for a cost of $1 billion.

Automaker money is on the table too for eVTOLs. The merger of the automakers Fiat Chrysler and PSA Peugeot formed the company Stellantis, which has also invested in Archer.

The companies Solvay and Vertical Aerospace have agreed to collaborate and build an eVTOL. Solvay brings advanced composite and adhesive materials to the venture, and Vertical Aerospace specializes in sustainable aviation technologies. They plan to present the world with a working prototype, the VA-1X aircraft, by September 2021.

The five-seater Joby electric aircraft

Safety And Cost Advantages

Electric motors are less vulnerable to breakdowns compared to conventional engines. Additionally, electric motors weigh less, which means a single aircraft could have many engines. Such redundancy would guard against the threat of total engine failure during a flight.

Electrical charging costs less than engines that directly burn fossil fuels. On top of reducing this expense, aerospace scientists are working toward autonomous eVTOLs operated by sophisticated software, which would eliminate the cost of paying a pilot.

How far do you think electric aerospace technology could go? Could it eventually work for long-range passenger flights?

ABOUT Archer

Our mission is to advance the benefits of sustainable air mobility. By creating the world’s leading air mobility network, we will help push the world towards a zero-emissions future.

  1. Build an aircraft to demonstrate the capabilities of electric VTOL
  2. Certify an aircraft that is just as safe as commercial airliners
  3. Launch commercial routes in cities & integrate autonomous systems for safety

ABOUT Solvay

Solvay is a science company whose technologies bring benefits to many aspects of daily life. Our purpose—we bond people, ideas and elements to reinvent progress—is a call to go beyond, to reinvent future forms of progress and create sustainable shared value for all through the power of science. In a world facing an ever-growing population and quest for resources, we aim to be the driving force triggering the next breakthroughs to enable humanity to advance while protecting the planet we all share.

We bond with customers and partners to address today and tomorrow’s megatrends. As a global leader in Materials, Chemicals and Solutions, Solvay brings advancements in planes, cars, batteries, smart and medical devices, water and air treatment, to solve critical industrial, social and environmental challenges. You can count on our innovative solutions to contribute to safer, cleaner and more sustainable future.

ABOUT Vertical Aerospace

Vertical Aerospace believes passionately in the power of electric flight to change the way the world travels because you shouldn’t have to sacrifice the planet you live on to get from A to B.

Founded by greentech entrepreneur Stephen Fitzpatrick in 2016, Vertical Aerospace has been disrupting the way aircraft are developed. Combining the rigour and discipline of aerospace with the pace and agility of F1 enables Vertical to develop cutting-edge electric aircraft.

VA-1X, Vertical’s flagship aircraft, is a piloted all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) which will carry four passengers for 100 miles at cruise speeds of 150mph. It is currently in development with flight testing taking place in 2021, followed by certification in 2024 with initial commercial services starting shortly afterwards.

Article Sources:

https://www.aero-mag.com/solvay-vertical-aerospace-electric-air-taxi-100220…
https://arstechnica.com/cars/2021/02/united-airlines-orders-200-vertical-ta…

Continue Reading

Aerospace

NASA’s Chainmail Tire Is Ready For Extraterrestrial Terrain

What happens when your planetary rover punctures its wheel and the nearest service station is about 34 million miles away? That’s a real problem for NASA and their plans to send another rover to Mars in 2020. Curiosity, the rover currently exploring the red planet, has been hindered by punctures in its aluminum wheels, but a new type of tire could make travel much smoother for NASA’s future Mars missions.

Durability testing at JPL

Image Source: NASA

Updating For Durability And Flexibility For The Unfamiliar

Based on the Resilient Wheel design from the original 1970 Lunar Roving Vehicle, a new type of airless, woven tire has been developed to prevent punctures and reliably travel across unfamiliar planetary terrain. After years of development and challenges in achieving the right balance of durability and traction, NASA engineer, Colin Creager and materials scientist Santo Padula created a stoichiometric nickel-titanium alloy wheel that’s durable, flexible, and is able to spring back to shape even after its deformed.

Durability testing at JPL

Image Source: NASA

A Prototype With Promise

The wheel is comprised of a series of interlocking coils, similar to chainmail. While the original Resilient Wheel used steel mesh, the updated version provides better spring deflection and traction on rough terrain. Tests of the new prototype show promise, although NASA has not yet confirmed whether this specific design will be the one that’s used on its 2020 Mars rover. The chainmail wheels may however, play an integral role in the next crewed exploration vehicle, which would allow for speedier travel and more weight capacity than the Curiosity rover.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3F42ttA3o8[/embedyt]

Have thoughts to offer on this development? Share them in the comments.

Article Sources 

http://www.thedrive.com
https://www.nasa.gov

Continue Reading