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March 28, 2017

How are Skyscraper Windows Cleaned?

How are Skyscraper Windows Cleaned?

Discover how the tallest buildings on the planet keep up appearances

There are three main factors involved when it comes to cleaning skyscraper windows: cleaning equipment, cleaning mechanism technology and environmental considerations.

Due to the epic heights and natural factors like wind involved in the operation, every cleaner is equipped with a harness, descent and safety rope, rope protector, rope-grabbing tool, descent mechanism, lanyard and suction cups. Together these tools enable the worker to negotiate a building’s vertical façade at speed, while attached to a roof-mounted anchor. This anchor allows cleaners to descend in ‘drops’ – the measurement of one vertical cleaning operation from roof to the below floor or platform – without fear of falling.

When group work is necessary, a cleaning mechanism will be employed (see boxout on the right for more information). These mechanical gantries enable teams of cleaners to work in unison and are powered by roofmounted hydraulic and pneumatic support systems. The ascending and descending of the gantries is dictated by a control panel, but as a backup additional control systems are typically placed on the roof of the building.

Skyscraper Cleaned picture

Lastly, when cleaning skyscraper windows, workers must constantly be vigilant of potentially deadly environmental factors – the chief one being wind. At the high altitude of skyscrapers, wind flow is not just fierce but highly turbulent, with the building acting as a disrupter to the general environmental flow. These gusts can blow cleaners off course, cause tools to be dropped (a risk to anyone passing below) and render gantries unusable. Luckily, many modern skyscrapers – such as the world’s tallest, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai – are now being designed to smoothly redirect winds around their structures and prevent the buildup of vortices and turbulence.

High-altitude window cleaning

Here are four of the most common skyscraper cleaning mechanisms

Boom

One of the most popular cleaning systems historically, the boom lets a building’s façade be accessed easily by a large team. The boom system is permanent and can be operated on-gantry or off.

Carriage

These rail-mounted carriages enable gantries to cover larger areas of a building’s façade due to their ability to move left and right. As with booms, they are permanent structures and cannot be moved around the building.

Portable davit

The cheapest and simplest solution for cleaning skyscraper windows, portable davits move between fixed bases on a roof, enabling access to different sides of the edifice with just one davit-based system.

Bosun’s chair

A more modern development in skyscraper window cleaning technology, the bosun’s chair gives a single cleaner access to a tall building’s windows from a safe seated position. They are ideal for tight areas and use over long periods.

Next Generation Lifeboat | Shannon Class RNLI Boat

Next-Generation Lifeboats

The latest vessel made by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) to enter service is the Shannon class – an innovative design incorporating a host of cutting-edge technology. Luke Blissett from the RNLI reveals: “The Shannon is the first RNLI lifeboat to be powered by water jets, making it the most agile lifeboat in the fleet.” The Shannon is self-righting so even if it were to capsize in extreme conditions it could get itself out of trouble. This ability is achieved by having a watertight superstructure that makes the boat unstable when it is upside down.

“The Shannon’s hull has been designed to minimize slamming of the boat in heavy seas,” Blissett continues: “The crew sit in shock absorbing seats making it safer and more comfortable for our volunteer crews.” The hull is made from composites – a combination of glass and carbon fibres and epoxy resins for maximum strength while remaining lightweight. Once the molding is completed with all the internal strengthening structures attached, the engines and equipment are installed. The deck and superstructure moulding are the last features to be fitted.

Shannon Next Generation Life Boat explained

The water jet propulsion replaces the conventional propeller with a high-capacity pump that expels water from the rear for propulsion thrust and more maneuverability than previous lifeboats. “This increased maneuverability helps when precision matters, such as when operating alongside a stricken vessel,” Blissett explains. The jets are less prone to damage and allow the lifeboat to operate in shallower waters. Capable of speeds of 25 knots (46 kilometres/29 miles per hour), the Shannon is 50 per cent faster than the models it replaces.

Beyond the boat’s advanced structure, the RNLI has also made a full commitment to electronics on its next-gen lifeboats. The conventional steering wheel has disappeared, replaced by an electronic tiller arm placed in the armrest of the coxswain’s seat. Facing them are displays that show all the required navigation, collision avoidance and monitoring information, and the remaining crew of five have similar displays.

“We will build at least 50 Shannon-class lifeboats over the next ten years,” Blissett concludes. “Once the rollout is complete the RNLI will have achieved its aim of operating a lifeboat fl eet around the coasts of the United Kingdom and Ireland consisting entirely of lifeboats capable of 25 knots and able to reach out to 100 miles [160 kilometers] offshore in all weathers.”

Shannon Next Generation Life Boat parts pic

On board the Shannon

Discover what features make the latest RNLI vessel one of the most advanced to ever patrol the seas

Deck line

The deck is lowered in this area so the crew can quickly aid survivors in the water.

Water jets The Shannon is the first RNLI

lifeboat with water jet propulsion to give excellent manoeuvrability combined with shallow draft.

Launch tractor

Designed by Supacat, this bespoke tractor is powered by a 331kW (444hp) engine helping to launch the boat in no more than ten minutes.

Powerful engines

Two 485kW (650hp) diesel engines make the Shannon one of the fastest lifeboats in service.

Recovery tools

A small crane arm swings out to enable casualties to be lifted out of the water.

Electronics

Advanced displays in the cabin enable the crew to monitor and control the lifeboat to avoid collisions.

Strong hull

Made mainly of epoxy resin, it’s shaped to smooth the ride in rough seas and strong enough to withstand heavy impacts from waves.

The Most Remote Community in the World

The Most Remote Community in the World

2430 Km to the closest neighbor, that’s the concept of “local” for the 263 inhabitants of the South Atlantic island of Tristan da Cunha, making their community the most remote on Earth. The nearest inhabited land, the island of Saint Helena, is located 2,430 km to the north, or the same as the distance between Moscow and Amsterdam. The closest mainland is South Africa, 2,800 km to the east.

Tristan da Cunha forms part of an archipelago under British rule including a total of six islands. The 98 Km2 Island mainly consists of a fertile stratovolcano rising 2,062 m above the ocean surface. The only flat area is located towards the north-west, where you will find the islanders’ homes in the village of Edinburgh.

Tristan The Most Remote Community map pic

The Tristans go all the way back to 1816. Napoleon was placed under house arrest on the island of Saint Helena, and the British feared that France would use other Atlantic islands to launch an attack. So, the UK stationed a corporal and his family on Tristan da Cunha. Until 1908, the island experienced limited immigration. Today, the population lives by agriculture, fishery, and the sale of coins.

Solar Power Rubbish Bin | How they Work & Function

Solar-Powered Rubbish Bins

They crush our litter, send an email when they are nearly full and are powered entirely by the Sun – but what tech makes these trash cans so sophisticated?

Solar-powered bins contain a sensor to detect when they are full. When litter reaches the level of the sensor, an internal compaction mechanism is activated, crushing the rubbish to make more space. The bins can therefore hold up to eight times more refuse than traditional trash cans, with a capacity of around 800 liters (211 gallons). The compaction mechanism runs on a standard 12-volt battery so requires very little power. This enables the bins to be used in areas that don’t receive much sunlight; in fact, they can even work in the shade – most need just eight hours of sunlight a month to power the compactor and internal electrical components.

Solar Power Rubbish Bin diagram

Many of these bins also include a sensor connected to a wireless transmitter, which sends a signal to the local waste disposal company when the bin has been filled to 85 per cent capacity. This makes the waste collection process much more efficient.

What are High Flying Paramotors & How they Work

High Flying Paramotors 

The latest craze that’s literally taking off is para-motoring. These powered paragliders are the cheapest and most compact form of flying, offering mere mortals the chance to explore the heavens where the sky is literally the limit!

It’s remarkably simple: combining a backpack engine attached to a ram-air parafoil wing so you wear the engine itself. Variations include a tandem flown by two people and a trike, which has wheels attached to increase the device’s ground adaptability. It is usually foot launched so there is no need for a long airfield or runway to ascend and with the powerful two or four-stroke propelled engine in tow, there is no reliance on wind assistance.

The engine can be stopped and restarted mid-air to easily change direction and altitude. The steering controls work via brake lines that increase or decrease the drag on each side of the wing. But perhaps its most appealing feature is the low carbon footprint, with minimal emissions coming from a paramotor.

High Flying Paramotors picture

Costing between £3,500 and £12,000 ($5,900 and $20,200) each when brought from a constructor, many people also make their own and combine it with a second-hand paraglider wing. The pilots must also wear the appropriate safety gear including a flying suit, boots and a helmet. In many countries Para-motoring does not require a special license, but pilots must learn and obey airspace regulations in order to avoid commercial airline flight paths.

 SkyRunner

UK-based Parajet International is designing a paramotor-vehicle hybrid known as the SkyRunner. Designed to be all-terrain, it has been described as the ‘ultimate recreational sports vehicle.’ The fi rst prototype emerged in 2009 when a design of attaching a paraglider to a buggy appeared. Through continual modifications it has morphed into its current incarnation.

The SkyRunner is a lightweight, high-strengthconstruction intended to tackle demanding landscapes and be road legal. As well as its impressive specs, the vehicle takes the pilot’s comfort seriously with new paraglider wing technology, which absorbs turbulence, and a fly-wheel design that counters uncomfortable engine vibration without affecting performance.

Anatomy of a paramotor

The technology, aerodynamics and safety features explained

Storage and parachute

This area acts as a hold to safely put away valuables, essential items and a backup parachute.

Engine (paramotor)

Powering a two-blade propeller, lightweight engines increase strength-to-weight ratio – the size ranges from 50cc to 250cc.

Seatboard

Paramotoring is often done in a seated position to lessen fatigue and new versions are self-deployable for easier landing

Hangpoints

These can be placed in a high or low position. The first restricts movement and is for beginners while the second feels more like free flight and is for expert flyers.

Pivot arms

These lock your arms into the mechanism allowing you to fly safely and comfortably

Harness

Using air-mesh tech, this straps the body tight onto the paramotor and acts as a ‘backpack’ giving the pilot ideal weight distribution for flight.

What is Robotic Surgery and its Evolution

Robotic Surgery

Medical technology in the operating theater has come on leaps and bounds, but it still needs a helping hand from human.

Robotic surgery allows for control and precision previously unknown to surgeons. Contrary to popular belief, the robot does not operate on the patient alone. It is a ‘slave’ to a human ‘master’, meaning it is not a true robot (these can work and react automatically). The surgeon sits at a console next to the operating table and the robot is placed around the anaesthetised patient. The surgeon looks at a high-definition 3D image provided by the robot’s cameras, and special joysticks are used to control the ultra-fine movements of the robotic arms.

This brings many exciting advantages. The camera, previously held by a human being, is now held perfectly still by the robot. The movements and angles that the arms of the machine provide allow for fi ne precision and less damage to adjacent tissues when cutting, leading to reduced pain and a faster recovery. This has led to very rapid uptake by some specialists, including urologists (who operate on the bladder and kidney), gynaecologists (who operate on the uterus and ovaries) and heart surgeons. As with most technologies, there are downsides to using robots in operations. They are expensive, large, cumbersome to move into place, and remove the important tactile feeling of real tissue between the surgeon’s fingers.

Robotic Surgery diagram

Robotic surgery is considered a step forward from standard keyhole surgery, where the surgeon holds the camera and operating arms. However, early results have shown that there are practically no outcome differences between the two techniques. Combined with higher costs, some surgeons think this means robots are actually inferior to current techniques. This has led to the development of on-going trials, comparing robotic to standard keyhole surgery.

Surgeons around the world are working as a single, giant team to deliver these, and the results will determine the future of medical robots for generations to come.

The evolution of robotic surgery

The current robots in use, like the da Vinci Surgical System, are second generation. The first generation, like the Unimation PUMA developed in the Eighties, had very limited movements and could only carry out specific tasks. The second generation brought a range of fi ne and varied actions, which surgeons rapidly adapted to.

These new-and-improved robots were pioneered and driven forward by North American health systems. Uptake has been slower in Britain due to health budgets, at a time when other treatments have an even bigger impact on patient outcome. There is excitement over development of the third generation of robot, which promises to be more compact, faster and to be packing in even more cutting-edge technology. The future may see telesurgery, where the surgeon in one place (eg a hospital) performs robotic surgery on a patient elsewhere (eg an injured soldier on a battlefield).

What are the Rogue Planets & Why they are Wandering in Space

Rogue Planets

Meet the free-floating planets that like to fly solo.

Up until the late-20th century the only planets we knew of were those found in our own Solar System. Now, thanks to missions such as NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, we know of hundreds more that exist in other planetary systems across the cosmos. But in the last decade, we’ve started to find some planets drifting freely through space, and estimates suggest that there could be millions more in our Milky Way alone. First theorized in 1998, several rogue planets have been found since 2012. The predominant theory as to how these planets come to be ‘going solo’ surmises that these bodies were knocked out of a planetary system by some major event – perhaps a passing star or a nearby unbalanced young system.

Another emerging theory, however, suggests that some rogue planets could be born without a parent star in clouds of dust and gas. These planets would then form in a similar way to stars, except they would be too small to ignite fusion at their cores, so end up remaining as planets rather than developing into stars. Studies indicate free-floating planets may be able to retain some heat, although they are most likely to be cold and barren worlds.

Rogue Planet picture

Detecting rogue planets is a tricky business. Our usual methods of finding exo-planets, by noticing their effect on their parent star, are impossible here. Instead, scientists either try to directly image them or notice the gravitational microlensing effect a rogue planet has as it passes in front of a background star.

First sighting

One of the closest rogue planets to our Solar System, and the first to ever be confirmed in 2012, was CFBDSIR2149-0403. Found about 100 light years from us, its proximity has allowed it to be studied in detail. Observed by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) on Hawaii, astronomers have deduced it is between 50 and 120 million years old. It is thought to have a surface temperature of 400 degrees Celsius (750 degrees Fahrenheit) and a mass four to seven times that of Jupiter. Interestingly some observations have also detected water and methane in its atmosphere.

Helicopter History Timeline

Helicopter History Timeline/ Helicopter Evolution

Here in the following lines you can read some interesting historical facts about the helicopters. Check out the evolution of modern day helicopter in the following lines. Check out some of the best, worst and just plain weird choppers ever designed;

1480’s

Aerial screw Leonardo da Vinci sketches out what he refers to as an ‘aerial screw’ in his notebook. It is never built however.

1907

Cornu helicopter French bicycle-maker Paul Cornu builds an experimental helicopter. It makes a number of short hops off the ground.

1924

Oehmichen No 2 Étienne Oehmichen sets the first recognized helicopter world record by flying his design 360m (1,181ft).

1942

Sikorsky R-4 Igor Sikorsky builds the first ever mass produced helicopter, the R-4, with 131 units made over a two-year period.

Helicopter History Timeline sketch

1959

Sikorsky S-61 The S-61 betrays Sikorsky’s heritage as a helicopter maker as it is marred by high mortality rate accidents.

1966

Hughes YOH-6A The YOH-6A sets a new world record for distance traveled without landing.

1972

Aerospatiale Lama French aviator Jean Boulet pilots an Aerospatiale Lama to a height of 12,442m (40,820ft), setting a still unbroken record.

1986

Westland Lynx English pilot John Egginton sets the first official helicopter speed record of 400km/h (249mph) in a Westland Lynx.

2003

Eurocopter Tiger The Eurocopter Tiger becomes the first all composite helicopter to be developed in Europe, incorporating a glass cockpit.

2011

E-copter French Australian Inventor Pascal Chrétien builds the world’s first manned, fully electric helicopter.

Aerial Transfer Bridges | What are Moving Bridges?

Aerial Transfer Bridges

Learn how transporter bridges carry cargo and passengers across water one of the biggest challenges in bridge.

building across busy rivers is allowing boats to navigate them freely. Solutions have been invented in the form of a variety of movable bridges, with sections that retract, lift up or even sink to make room. A rare example is the transporter bridge, or aerial transfer bridge, which uses a movable platform, or gondola, to carry loads from one bank to the other. There are very few examples worldwide – indeed, less than 25 of these bridges have ever been constructed – and only a few remain in use today.

The construction of transporter bridges varies. The Vizcaya Bridge in Spain has two pillars connected by a crossbeam and supported suspension cables, while the Tees Transporter Bridge (pictured) in the UK is acantilevered design with two halves, each supported entirely by two towers at either end. Despite the differences in their overall structure, transporter bridges all work using the same fundamental mechanics. The gondola is suspended below the bridge by a series of steel cables, which attach to an overhead trolley. The trolley sits on a track, which runs the length of the bridge, and a winch system is used to draw the platform and its cargo back and forth across the waterway.

Aerial Transfer Bridge picture

The gondolas have a large carrying capacity and can often transport several hundred people or several vehicles at once. They also provide an advantage over traditional bridges in that they can take passengers directly from ground level. If the riverbanks are very low, a long approach road is required to get vehicles to the correct altitude to cross a normal bridge.

Five bridges that move

Followings are the types of moving bridges. These bridges can move and hence of great utility.

Drawbridge

Drawbridges were one of the first types of movable bridge. Attached to rope or chain and a counterweight, they are raised and lowered by turning a crank, and function not just as a bridge over a moat or ditch but also as a door.

Folding bridge

Folding bridges are made from several segments. As the bridge opens, the segments are pulled into a concertina by counterweights, forming a folded ‘N’ shape and allowing boats to pass underneath.

Bascule Bridge

The arms of a bascule bridge like London’s Tower Bridge swing up, so boats pass through the centre. They work in a similar manner to a seesaw, using a counterweight to move the arms upwards.

Tilt bridge

A tilt bridge has a curved deck, which rotates around its central axis. When a boat needs to pass, the bridge spins upwards, transforming the walkway into an arch for the vessel to travel beneath.

Submersible bridge

Instead of rising up, a submersible bridge, like that in the Corinth Canal in Greece, has a section that sinks below the water to allow boats to pass. This means no height restriction is imposed on the river traffic.

Drone Aircraft Technology | Types, Uses & How it Works

Drone Aircraft

Today one aerial vehicle reigns above all others in grabbing the news headlines on almost a weekly basis: the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). These pilotless planes, or drones, are being used in an ever-growing range of roles, with national militaries now fielding vast remote-controlled squadrons across all theaters of war.

You only have to look at images of the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, a combat-centered UAV considered one of the most advanced hunter killer aircraft ever built, and it’s not hard to see why some have claimed that drone technology is something to be feared. Indeed, as its name would suggest, the Reaper specialises in long-endurance, high-altitude strikes at enemy targets with a variety of armaments, including a combination of highly accurate AGM-114 Hellfi re missiles and GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bombs. However this militarization of UAV tech and the frequent bad press it gets fails to give credit to its many other applications, and arguably shrouds its true importance in the future of aviation, which is seeing incredibly successful results across all current fields.

Just to take one example out of many, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) currently uses the Aerosonde UAV as a hurricane hunter and weather monitor. The reason? Because this drone is an incredibly advanced piece of kit more than capable of out-sensing and outperforming any manned aircraft in the role of collecting atmospheric data. Indeed, the Aerosonde is able to record temperature, atmospheric pressure, humidity and wind measurements over oceans and remote areas with ease, remaining airborne up to a range of 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles), at an altitude of 4,500 metres (15,000 feet) and a speed of 148 kilometers (92 miles) per hour. This performance is delivered through the partnership of the Aerosonde’s modified Enya R120 engine and sleek, aerodynamic chassis – while its endurance is guaranteed by the lack of  human pilot. In fact, prior to the use of drones as weather monitors and early warning systems, many lives were lost or endangered when piloted aircraft were brought down by bad weather. The arrival of drones such as the Aerosonde has removed that risk.

Uses of Drones

Indeed, what is not reported is that today, UAVs are used in many useful, non-military applications , ranging from fighting forest fires to saving trapped civilians from disaster zones, and all without further endangering human life. The speed, agility and reconnaissance capabilities far outstrip those of any single human, and their deployment is seeing ever greater success across all fields.

Different Use of Drones pictures

So, why the hostility? Admittedly, the notion of a computer-controlled aircraft, which if militarized could carry high explosive weapons, is a daunting one, but when you start to consider that these aircraft are the product of the most advanced aviation companies, with each dedicating many of their best teams to their creation – you have to question whether those concerns are justified. In fact, a quick browse of the world’s top plane manufacturers, be it the British BAE Systems, the American General Atomics, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, or the French Dassault Aviation, shows each is pouring its most bleeding-edge technology into researching and developing UAVs. Dassault Aviation, for example, is currently building a drone aircraft, nicknamed the ‘nEUROn’. It’s cloaked, has a delta wing design and is capable of hitting a top speed of 980 kilometres (608 miles) per hour. It is, in many respects, as advanced as today’s most competent manned aircraft. However, the nEUROn’s main purpose is not to enter production, but to trial out technology and – critically – safety features which can then be adopted into future production aircraft. This trend of stringent testing of UAVs and potential technology is at the forefront of the industry; the nEUROn did not fly when displayed at the 2013 Paris Air Show as it’s not yet cleared to fl y in civilian airspace – something that will likely only happen after all its flight trials in late-2015.

In fact, UAV aircraft are among the safest and most advanced on the planet, with many of their technologies pioneering and, importantly, readily transferable to other vehicles. Today, UAVs are fairly small machines, but in the future, thanks to their autopilot systems now being more advanced than any other aircraft due to state-of-the-art R&D efforts, larger pilotless cargo or even passenger aircraft could be built, with faster, more frequent flights possible, and with far less chance of human error. What’s more, it’s not just future drone aircraft that will benefi t from UAV development, but traditional piloted aircraft bound to see many upgrades too. Despite increasing numbers of drones set to be used over the next 50 years, there will naturally still remain a huge demand for piloted aircraft. With the help of sensory, communication and autopilot systems delivered by drone technology, these flights will be achieved more effi ciently and with greater safety than ever before.

How UAV Work diagram

Just because the history of unmanned aerial vehicles is largely militarised, with efforts to create a drone aircraft beginning as far back as World War I, that does not mean its future has to be. The wider air industry needs to evolve rapidly if it is to keep pace with the everincreasing population’s travel needs, and for that, drones are a key component.

If UAVs are the future of flight, then a clear roadmap needs to be laid down for their development. Currently, UAVs are split into six functional categories including target and decoy, reconnaissance, combat, logistics, research and development, and commercial, with the latter only being granted a license to operate in most nations’ airspace on a case-bycase basis. This limited form of categorisation is fi ne to a point, but as the number of drone aircraft and their applications increase, more refined and flexible criteria will have to be set.

For example, government use today largely revolves around emergency services, such as fire brigades using drones to detect forest fires – but as more and more services enter the private sector, then laws – like the ones slowly emerging for driverless cars – will need to be amended to account for the fact that many future vehicles will not have a pilot on board. This sort of change needs to be partnered with greater monitoring over private UAV manufacturers, as with great technology comes greater responsibility and accountability. While certain UAVs are being scaled up, others are going the other way, with some experimental models even launchable by hand like a paper plane (like the RQ-11 Raven). If this sort of cutting-edge development continues, then soon UAVs might not just be carrying weapons, cameras and disaster relief, but performing more everyday tasks. That said, it will probably be some time yet before drones are delivering your weekly food shop.

Drone Conversion

Currently, military contractor Boeing is retrofitting retired F-16 fighter jets with equipment that allows them to be fl own remotely as a UAV. The jets, which have been obsolete for 15 years, were chosen due to their excellent handling characteristics and small radar profile. Early tests saw the fi rst of these drone F-16s attaining speeds north of Mach 1.47 and successfully completing a series of complex maneuvers. The reason for the conversion of the F-16s, which from now on will be designated QF-16s, is to create a fl eet of mission-capable unmanned vehicles that can be used to help train pilots and act as dummy targets for live fi re tests.  Currently, only six of these drone QF-16s are operational, but due to the programme’s success, a production schedule is pencilled in to begin in late 2013, with the aircraft ready for deployment by 2015.

F 16 Fighter Drone picture

Drones to watch

 Followings are some latest and most exciting drones;

Taranis

Technically referred to as a UCAV, an Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle, BAE Systems’ Taranis is an experimental drone currently undergoing trials in the  UK. The project is led by BAE, but also involves Rolls-Royce, GE Aviation Systems, QinetiQ and the British Ministry of Defence (MoD). The prototype cost £143 million ($230 million) to develop and is designed with fully autonomous elements in mind, though a trained operator will always be in control on the ground.

Phantom Eye

Phantom Eye The Boeing-made Phantom Eye is a high-altitude, long-endurance UAV designed by the defence contractor’s secretive Phantom Works. It’s powered by liquid hydrogen and has been designed as a spy plane, remaining in flight at high altitude for several days without having to return to a base station. The Phantom Eye recently reached an altitude of 8,530 metres (28,000 feet) and remained there for four and a half hours while carrying a payload from the Missile Defense Agency.

Phantom Eye Drone picture

Zephyr

A lightweight solar-powered UAV that currently holds the official record for an unmanned aerial vehicle – spending 336 hours and 22 minutes airborne without landing – the QinetiQ Zephyr is an experimental drone designed to explore the possibilities of solar-powered UAVs. Made from carbon fibre, the Zephyr uses harvested sunlight to charge a lithiumsulphur battery, which in turn powers a permanent-magnet synchronous motor.

Zephyr Drone picture

Tempest

The Tempest is an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) designed for in-situ sensing and observation of severe storms and supercell thunderstorms. The aircraft is launched manually via radio control and is switched to autonomous mode once airborne, where it then operates via autopilot within a designated airspace region. Atmospheric data gathered by Tempest is then streamed back to a mobile base station for processing, with any early warnings instantly shared.