12/06/13: Here are today's technology updates:
- Aviation week reports a large, classified unmanned aircraft developed by Northrop Grumman is now flying—and it demonstrates a major advance in combining stealth and aerodynamic efficiency. The ISR UAS, dubbed the RQ-180, is scheduled to enter production for the US Air Force and could be operational by 2015. Foreign Policy followed up with an article to put the new drone in context.
- The US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) with funding from SwampWorks at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Department of Defense Rapid Reaction Technology Office (DoD/RRTO) demonstrated the launch of an all-electric, fuel cell-powered, unmanned aerial system (UAS) from a submerged submarine. From concept to fleet demonstration, this idea took less than six years to produce results at significant cost savings when compared to traditional programs often taking decades to produce results.
- Perovskites, which are made from calcium titanium oxide, are currently being tested in solar cells with remarkable results. In tests, solar cells with perovskites, can convert twice as much energy as conventional solar cells. Even more importantly, perovskites are inexpensive to produce. Now, scientists are discovering a hidden talent of the material: that it can be used to make lasers. Scientists from the University of Toronto demonstrated the perovskites’ ability to make lasers by blasting them in spherical form with ultraviolet light. This light bounced around inside the spheres and came out at one frequency, as infrared laser light.
- Four teams that built full robot hardware and software systems using their own funds qualified to join 13 other teams to compete in the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Trials. The event will take place Dec. 20 and 21 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla., where spectators can observe as the robots are tested on the capabilities that would enable them to provide assistance in future natural and man-made disasters.
- After more tests completed last month, the Navy and Marines have decided that the RQ-21A Blackjack drone is worth the gamble. Naval Air Command officials awarded an $8.8 million contract last week to Boeing subsidiary Insitu for one low-rate initial production of an RQ-21A Blackjack UAV system that includes one aircraft, ground control stations, and launch and recovery equipment. What makes Blackjack attractive is its ability to adapt to different land and sea environments and tactical situations. The multi-mission Blackjack payload bays can be customized with visible-light imager, infrared cameras, communications and other tools.