When it comes to planes cruising through the air, many of us are used to the idea of them flying on autopilot with little or no input from a human pilot as they travel from one destination to another. Landing a plane under autopilot, known as autoland, is a different matter. While some systems already exist, efforts are underway to improve them to enable safer landings.
An alternative aeroplane wing tip dubbed ‘new raked’ that would make flying more fuel efficient has been awarded one of four €7,000 first prizes at this year’s European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS).
Blending biofuels and kerosene to create greener jet fuel has shown promising results in test flights, but more work needs to be done to ensure biofuels burn cleanly and can be produced in a large-scale, low-cost way, says Dr Chong Cheng Tung, associate professor at the China-UK Low Carbon College of Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China.
Self-driving cars are set to bring one of the biggest changes to our global transportation system in decades, but their potential to increase road safety should not be over-emphasised if we want to increase people’s trust in automated vehicles, says Dr Jean-François Bonnefon from the Toulouse School of Economics, France, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US. He is a behavioural scientist who studies the ethics of self-driving cars and is speaking at the European Conference on Connected and Automated Driving (EUCAD) in Brussels, Belgium, which runs from 2-3 April 2019.
Semi-autonomous cars are expected to hit the roads in Europe next year with truck convoys following a few years later. But before different brands can share the roads, vehicle manufacturers need to agree on standards for automated functions.
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.
Problems have dogged its floodgates but other measures have been successful.
Sea ice researcher Dr Polona Itkin spoke to Horizon about life aboard a research vessel drifting in the Arctic.