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Engineering Update #62: The first commercial drone

Thu, 06/12/2014 - 11:20am
Jon Dipierro, Multimedia Production Specialist

On this episode of the Engineering Update:

The first commercial drone
Recently, the Federal Aviation Administration approved the first commercial drone, AeroVironment'S RQ-20A Puma AE, a small hand-launched UAS with endurance of 3.5 hours and the capability to extend its range with solar or fuel cell options. It also includes electro-optical and infrared cameras. The Puma is already popular with the US Marine Corps, the Air Force, and Special Operations Command, but this time, it'll be flying in domestic airspace, by BP no less.

An aluminum air battery
When it comes to electric vehicles, the battery is always a key concern, whether it's weight, power or even whether or not it's going to catch on fire. A main discussion has obviously been the range for battery systems. If you take Tesla's 300 miles range out of the mix, they're really aren't a lot of great long distance options when it comes to EVs. Unfortunately, lithium ion batteries don't get a great range and they're really the only thing on the market right now.

Improving glasses-free 3D
I think it's fair to say that the second coming of 3D has been an abysmal failure, and consumers haven't quite bought into what is -- in essence -- a visual gimmick. Even if the tech has advanced leaps and bounds beyond silly '50s-era glasses to autostereoscopy, or glasses-free 3D. Earlier this month, at SID Display Week, I saw a very cool tech demo from Tianma NLT that could potentially solve the intrinsic weakness with glasses-free 3D, including its poor viewing angles.

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