Special Coverage

Home

Will remote-controlled passenger flights take off in the next 5 years?

This week's Question: Last month, the Manassas, VA-based Aurora Flight Sciences Corp. tested its 4100-pound twin-propeller experimental airplane. The Centaur flew without a pilot and within airspace also being used by commercial aircraft. John Langford, the CEO of Aurora, is very optimistic about the test flight and the future of Centaur and other unmanned aircraft. Langford recently told CNN: “I’m a huge believer that the unmanned airplane revolution will make aviation safer for everybody. That isn’t to say there won’t be accidents, but the overall level of safety will go up as the robotic stuff is introduced.” Merging large unmanned aircraft into commercial airspace will require adjustments to aircraft and operator certification, air traffic control, and the FAA's air traffic system. Langford believes that planes like Centaur will be able to fly with FAA approval in 5 to 7 years. What do you think? Will remote-controlled passenger flights take off in the next 5 years?

Posted in: Question of the Week

Read More >>

Will seaplanes take flight?

This week's Question: As global air traffic increases and airports expand, researchers from Imperial College London's Department of Aeronautics have developed a design concept for a medium to long-range seaplane. The proposed design, the Imperial College team says, may reduce the pressure on inland airports, lower noise pollution, and the halt the need for extensive infrastructure. The design has a V-shape hull, inspired by the flying boat aircraft the 1940s. The hull provides buoyancy and navigability as the plane lands and take off from the water. The team says their concept seaplane design would have the capacity to carry up to 2000 passengers at a time. In an interview with CNN, Dr. Errikos Levis, a researcher in the Department of Aeronautics at Imperial College London, said he doesn't believe seaplanes would replace land planes or match their current fuel efficiency, and it would take a decade for the design to become a reality. What do you think? Will seaplanes take flight?

Posted in: Question of the Week

Read More >>

Would you implant a technology under your skin?

This week's Question: During a speech at last week's Sensors Expo in Long Beach, California, keynote speaker and NewDealDesign technology designer Gadi Amit explained a new concept that he believes could be the next step in wearable technology. The idea, Project Underskin, is an implantable device that places a display within your palm. Powered by the body's electro-chemical energy, the proposed technology would enable the control of your various wearable devices. Specific quadrants of the device, for example, could act as a glucose sensor, a door opener, a payment confirmation, a data transfer, or a display of your emotional state. Amit imagines that the concept is five to ten years away from reality. What do you think? Would you implant a technology under your skin?

Posted in: Question of the Week

Read More >>

Will robots hurt the job market?

This week's Question: In a cover article in this month's issue of The Harvard Business Review, two researchers suggest strategies for remaining gainfully employed in an age of robotics and smarter machines. Although the authors concede the advance of automation, editor at large Julia Kirby and Babson College professor Thomas H. Davenport write that machines will increase possibilities for employment and that “the threat of automation” could be reframed as an “opportunity for augmentation." The authors provide examples of opportunities for humans to collaborate with machines, including big-data drug discovery, precision agriculture, design work, and elder care. Machines and computers, however, already perform tasks formerly done by humans, including factory sorting, manufacturing, and even journalism. What do you think? Will robots hurt the job market?

Posted in: Question of the Week

Read More >>

Will Hyperloops replace trains?

According to the Navigant Research firm, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has made a deal with central California landowners to build the world's first Hyperloop. The 5-mile test track will be built along California's Interstate 5. The Hyperloop, brought up in 2014 by Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, would hypothetically enable passengers to travel in suspended pods through low-pressure tubes at more than 750 miles per hour. Supporters say the Hyperloop has the potential to be a faster, cheaper, and more energy-efficient form of travel than planes, trains, or buses. It is not yet known, however, if the technology is feasible or safe. What do you think? Will Hyperloops replace trains?

Posted in: Question of the Week

Read More >>

Will iris detection become a mainstream smartphone feature?

This week's Question: The Fujitsu Arrows NX F-04G, a new smartphone set for release in Japan, comes with a built-in retinal scanner that can be used for a variety of different functions, including unlocking the device, accessing apps, and making mobile payments. A front-facing infrared camera and an infrared LED light illuminate the user's eyes, verifying his or her unique iris pattern. Although the technology is currently only available in Japan, bigger companies like Samsung are also working on iris-detecting smartphones. What do you think? Will iris detection become a mainstream smartphone feature?

Posted in: Question of the Week, LEDs

Read More >>

Will robo-pets catch on?

This week's Question: In a study in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, Australian researcher Jean-Loup Raul predicts that robotic and virtual-reality pets will grow in popularity as urban populations expand. “It might sound surreal for us to have robotic or virtual pets, but it could be totally normal for the next generation,” Dr. Jean-Loup Rault said in a written statement. “It’s not a question of centuries from now. If 10 billion human beings live on the planet in 2050 as predicted, it’s likely to occur sooner than we think." What do you think? Will robo-pets catch on?

Posted in: Question of the Week

Read More >>