Swarms of firefighting drones could one day be deployed to tackle hugely destructive megafires that are becoming increasingly frequent in the Mediterranean region because of climate change, arson and poor landscape management. It's one of a number of initiatives looking at how best to fight large fires from the air – a challenge that's becoming more and more common. A 2017 report on forest fires by the EU's Joint Research Centre said that the year would'likely be remembered as one of the most devastating wildfire seasons in Europe since records began', after the destruction of nearly 700,000 hectares of land in the EU by early September. Such fires are dangerous not only for people who live in the area but also for the crews of people whose job it is to put the fires out. But using intelligent robots to scout the area and drop water can allow humans to stand further back from the danger zone, only looking at the drones' data to make decisions from the safety of a command and control centre.
In what would make an excellent sidekick for Batman, scientists have built a fascinating, unconventional flying robot that moves its wings and flies just like a bat. Covered with a thin, silicon skin, the flexible wings of this mechanical creature-- called Bat Bot-- can move like bat wings do, making use of nine different artificial joints (real bats have far more joints). Anyone who's ever seen a bat flap around at dusk knows they are incredible flyers, and Soon-Jo Chung, one of the flying robot's creators, said that he gets "mesmerized" by bats' impressive flight skills, with their quick turns and perching. "Bat flight is the holy grail of aerial robotics," Chung, an associate professor at CalTech and a research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. The flying robotic creation is very different from a typical artificial flying device, like a quadrotor drone that uses spinning propellers.
WASHINGTON – Congress passed an aviation bill Wednesday that attempts to close gaps in airport security and shorten screening lines, but leaves thornier issues unresolved. The bill also extends the Federal Aviation Administration's programs for 14 months at current funding levels. It was approved in the Senate by a vote of 89 to 4. The House had passed the measure earlier in the week and it now goes to President Barack Obama, who must sign the bill by Friday when the FAA's current operating authority expires to avoid a partial agency shutdown. Responding to attacks by violent extremists associated with the Islamic State group on airports in Brussels and Istanbul, the bill includes an array of provisions aimed at protecting "soft targets" outside security perimeters. Other provisions designed to address potential "insider threats" would toughen vetting of airport workers and other employees with access to secure areas, expand random employee inspections and require reviews of perimeter security.
Viral marketing may be the cool kid way to promote movies these days, but that isn't stopping Batman v Superman--the earnest dad of the current superhero franchises--from trying to keep it real. If Deadpool's campaign was an off-the-wall, over-the-top cross-platform marketing bonanza, Batman v Superman's is a by-the-book, cover-all-bases exercise that feels a little…rote. Getting a Twitter shoutouts from Turkish Airlines will never be quite as much fun as a poop emoji billboard. And despite strong advance ticket sales, the narrative that has emerged ahead of the movie's Friday release seems not to be "OMG we can't wait!" but "will BvS break even?" Is this the marketing team's fault?