From high winds and heavy rainfall to droughts and plummeting temperatures, people in Europe have already begun to feel the effects of extreme weather. As we get used to this new reality, scientists are investigating how it will affect how we get around and whether our infrastructure can cope.
Airports could be equipped with technology capable of detecting and bringing down drones that stray into their air space, according to Dan Hermansen, chief technology officer of Danish anti-drone firm MyDefence.The company has developed a drone alarm and protection system that is being installed at a number of prominent sites around Europe, including an airport. It has the potential to prevent the kind of costly disruption that hit London’s Gatwick and Heathrow airports recently.
One of the biggest drawbacks of electric vehicles – that they require hours and hours to charge – could be obliterated by a new type of liquid battery that is roughly ten times more energy-dense than existing models, according to Professor Lee Cronin, the Regius Chair of Chemistry at the University of Glasgow, UK.
The first day that Jérôme Delafosse stepped aboard the Energy Observer, an experimental catamaran run on hydrogen, he knew the plan of sailing around the world on clean energy was a realistic one, he says. Now, the explorer and documentary maker is one year into a six-year odyssey around the globe with his friend Victorien Erussard, an ocean racer and former cruise ship officer, to prove that the technology can be used for pollution-free ocean travel in the future.
Requiring drones to identify and authorise themselves before they can fly, which could be achieved by fitting them with SIM cards, could help to protect people's privacy by providing an effective way to register both users and machines, according to air traffic management expert Robin Garrity. He has been working on the U-space plan, which sets out a vision for how drones can be integrated into airspace, particularly in urban environments. It is part of work being conducted by the SESAR Joint Undertaking, a public-private partnership that coordinates EU research activities in air traffic management.
Modern engines - in particular those which inject fuel at high pressure - maximise efficiency and cut carbon dioxide emissions, but may also release harder-to-catch pollution associated with cancers and lung, heart and Alzheimer’s diseases. In response, European researchers are analysing exhaust particles down to one billionth of a metre, which may help in the development of cleaner cars.
Europe’s population is ageing rapidly, yet the majority of car safety equipment is tested using dummies modelled on people under the age of 65. Now researchers are developing vehicles and equipment designed specifically for the physical attributes and abilities of older bodies.
Aviation is one of the most environmentally harmful forms of transportation, accounting for 3% of all EU greenhouse gas emissions. But new aircraft designs inspired by the work of an early 20th-century aviation engineer and natural substances such as honeycomb and grass could help to cut the environmental footprint of flying.
Scientists are investigating the link between gut bacteria and ageing.
Their ageing rates might teach us how to grow old gracefully, too.
We are entering a second era of lunar exploration, says ESA’s Dr David Parker.