Future Tech: Plus…the most impressive delivery drone yet & an amazing new squishy ceramic.
A silent motorcycle that runs on electric power
From Popular Science:
A dirt bike is a tool for getting a person to a place they shouldn't be. Lightweight, made for rough terrain, and fast, motorcycles allow special forces to slip through woods, navigate narrow canyons, sneak through alleyways, or hurtle down footpaths.
There's only one problem: dirt bikes are really, really loud, so any secrecy gained by using a bike is lost to the engine's roar. Which is why DARPA, the Pentagon's future projects wing, is funding the development of a versatile electric dirt bike, so that special forces can have as silent a ride as possible on two powered wheels. The bike is called "SilentHawk," and after receiving the first prototype, DARPA liked to so much they asked for two more.
SilentHawk is a collaboration between Logos Technologies, which makes military tools like drones and sensors, and Alta Motors, which makes electric dirt bikes. Creating a silent motorcycle meant starting from an electric bike.
Chinese delivery drone that can carry an amazing one-ton load in development
JD.com, one of the largest online retailers in China, announced that it plans to develop a drone capable of carrying one ton of cargo for deliveries to and from remote parts of the country.
The company will test its drone technology in the northwestern Chinese province of Shaanxi, where the online retailer has reached an agreement with the local government to test a low-altitude drone logistics network.
Stretching over a 186-mile radius across Shaanxi, the drone logistics network will service hundreds of flight routes and air bases designed to optimize shipping online orders.
A spokesperson from JD told Recode that the company probably won’t have its one-ton capacity drone ready to fly for another two to three years. The early application for that drone will likely be to deliver food from agricultural centers in rural China into cities, rather than for last-mile delivery like the smaller drones already in use.
This strange sponge-like material is made from tiny ceramic nanofibres
Researchers have found a way to make ultralight sponge-like materials from nanoscale ceramic fibers. The highly porous, compressible and heat-resistant sponges could have numerous uses, from water purification devices to flexible insulating materials.
“The basic science question we tried to answer is how can we make a material that's highly deformable but resistant to high temperature," said Huajian Gao, a professor in Brown University's School of Engineering and a corresponding author of the research. "This paper demonstrates that we can do that by tangling ceramic nanofibers into a sponge, and the method we use for doing it is inexpensive and scalable to make these in large quantities."
The work, a collaboration between Gao's lab at Brown and the labs of Hui Wu and Xiaoyan Li at Tsinghua University in China, is described in the journal Science Advances. As anyone who has ever dropped a flower vase knows well, ceramics are brittle materials. Cracks in ceramics tend to propagate quickly, leading to catastrophic failure with even the slightest deformation. While that's true for all traditional ceramics, things are different at the nanoscale.
See more IT & Tech innovation stories and let us know the interesting technology stories you come across.