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Are FAA drone rules too restrictive?

This week's Question: This month, the Federal Aviation Administration proposed long-awaited rules on the commercial use of small drones, requiring operators to be certified, fly only during daylight, and keep their aircraft in sight. The ruling, for now, prevents drones from being used for a range of possible other commercial uses, including crop inspection and package delivery. What do you think? Are FAA drone rules too restrictive?

Posted in: Question of the Week

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Self-Diagnostic Accelerometer Field Programmable Gate Array

The system could be utilized as a portable and temporarily installed diagnostic system. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio The development of the self-diagnostic accelerometer (SDA) is important to both reducing the in-flight shutdowns (IFSD) rate — and hence reducing the rate at which this component failure type can put an aircraft in jeopardy — and also as a critical enabling technology for future automated malfunction diagnostic systems. Critical sensors, such as engine sensors, are inaccessible to the operator during typical operation due to safety concerns and enclosed environment. The SDA can diagnose the sensor in-flight and remotely with minimal interference with the typical operation of the sensor. The SDA system utilizes programmed health algorithms that can automatically determine the health, therefore increasing the precision in diagnosing sensor faults by removing the erroneous perspective and opinions of a human operator. The health of the sensor could also be determined immediately, which would remove its erroneous effect on a system that depends on the sensor.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Power Supplies, Thermal Management, Sensors

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Open-Source, Platform-Neutral BLAS Library

This work seeks to create libraries that are truly cross-platform, and support hardware from different manufacturers of different generations. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland New hybrid computing systems consist of a multicore CPU (central processing unit) and one or more massively parallel accelerator devices, such as GPUs (graphics processing units). Effectively utilizing these systems involves using all of the available computational resources, which may be difficult to program. Computing libraries have long existed to alleviate programmer burden and to provide high-performing and tested implementations for common tasks. Unfortunately, the library space is very fragmented, even in cases where the libraries cover similar functionality. In the accelerated computing space, this is compounded by different libraries and manufacturer-specific products that are used, all of which are incompatible with one another. The work described here seeks to overcome much of this burden, by creating libraries that are truly cross-platform, supporting hardware from different manufacturers, of different generations, and of differing levels of parallelism.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Electronics & Computers

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Ultra-Thin Lens Captures Perfect Colors

Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences researchers developed an ultra-thin, completely flat lens made of a glass substrate and tiny, light-concentrating silicon antennas. Color correction is achieved in the single, miniaturized device.Light shining on the "achromatic metasurface' lens bends instantaneously, rather than gradually, while passing through. The bending effects can be designed in advance, by an algorithm, and fine-tuned to fit specific applications.With no need to increase the lens thickness and footprint, the optical technology compensates for wavelength differences and produces a consistent effect — for example, deflecting three beams of different colors by the same angle, or focusing those colors on a single spot. The model uses a dielectric material rather than a metal for the nanoantennas, a change which greatly improves its efficiency and, combined with a new design approach, enables operation over a broad range of wavelengths.The technology could enable the creation of new miniature optical communications devices and find application in compact cameras and imaging devices.SourceLearn about the design of a GRadient INdex (GRIN) lens.

Posted in: News

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Propulsion Technology Could Combat Flight Pollution

A breakthrough propulsion technology to provide greener air transport could be developed after the underlying engineering was declared a success. Six universities and two research organizations from across the EU demonstrated the scientific feasibility of a novel propulsion method that overcomes the main limitations of traditional systems related to jet deflection exhausts.

Posted in: News

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Mini Models Fire Up to Test Space Launch System

NASA is working with CUBRC Inc. of Buffalo, NY to design, build, and test 2% scale models of the Space Launch System (SLS) propulsion system. Models include two five-segment solid rocket boosters and four core stage RS-25 engines, and a 2% scale model of the entire rocket. The models are fired for short durations of about 50-150 milliseconds per test.

Posted in: News

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UAVs to Play Critical Role in Precision Agriculture

Researchers are investigating how unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can be used commercially in agriculture. Their size, cost and capabilities make UAVs useful for a wide range of jobs. Mississippi State University researchers are already using these vehicles, and many others are examining their potential applications, including flying a camera on a drone to get instant aerial views of research fields. A flyover could identify problem spots in extremely large fields, and then researchers, crop consultants, or farmers could go to the identified areas and examine them carefully to make proper diagnoses. The information gathered by soil-moisture sensors could be compared to the information that could be gathered by drones. Technology already exists to allow producers to make very specific chemical applications to their fields with farm equipment. UAVs can help them target these applications even more precisely. Source:

Posted in: News

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