Maple to the Rescue

first_imgThe SWAT team surrounds the compound.  An officer tosses a maple seed into an open window and checks the readout on his computer.  The team bursts in and, surprising the terrorists, rescues the hostages safely.This scenario may become a reality, thanks to a new flying robot called Samarai, fashioned after the winged “samara” shape of the maple seed.  A high-energy video clip at Live Science tells the story of a tiny drone developed by Lockheed Martin for the military.  Engineers analyzed the shape of the seed’s wing and studied its flight dynamics.  Then they outfitted a plastic replica with a motor and a camera to create their miniature surveillance tool.Like a maple seed, Samarai has the advantage of very stable flight.  It can be launched from the floor, by a flick of the wrist, or from an elevated platform.  A remote control allows the operator to make it rise or turn in an any direction, or hover indefinitely.  (See “Introducing the Maple Copter,” 10/21/2009.)One problem was how to produce images on a spinning camera.  The team developed software that can take out the blur and stitch together the frames into a normal wide-angle motion picture, providing a stable 360° image.  This would allow our imaginary SWAT team to see inside the building to pinpoint the location of the terrorists and hostages.  The military would love to have these on the battlefield for reconnaissance.  Some day Samarias could be standard equipment for law enforcement, search and rescue, and other applications – thanks to the common, humble, ordinary maple seed.If it ever comes to the day when government snoops on citizens this way, be sure to have a strong fly swatter handy.  More likely, this will be one of the coolest toys for Christmas sometime.  Lawyers will undoubtedly find new opportunities to go after people spying on their neighbors.  Wise parents, though, will take their kids into the forest with their toy, let them enjoy it for awhile, then show them that the Creator designed it first.  The Creator even devised a way to stabilize an image from a moving platform (see 11/10/2006, 4/12/2005). (Visited 44 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

SA backs aerospace industry

first_img16 April 2004The government says it is committed to developing the fledgling aerospace industry in South Africa – in the way that it has helped the country’s motor industry out of the starting blocks.South Africa’s strategy for aerospace industry growth – traditionally considered a difficult sector to enter – is to encourage international partnerships with overseas aircraft manufacturers in the component sub-system repair and maintenance area.R110m super-alloys plantThe industry was recently bolstered by the announcement of a R110-million Anglovaal Mining (Avmin) investment in a new plant to produce super-alloy metals for Rolls-Royce engines.The plant, at Pelindaba outside Pretoria, is expected to produce 4 000 tons of the super-strong steel within three years, mostly for export, with potential earnings of R750-million a year for South African Airways (SAA), Business Day reports.The project forms part of offset deals linked to arms and aircraft purchases by the government and SAA.Two Malaysian contracts for GrintekDefence technology group Grintek also announced recently that it had secured two contracts with the Malaysian government.ThisDay reports that Avitronics, a joint venture between Grintek and Saab of Sweden, has been awarded the first phase of a contract to supply Malaysia with 18 multi-sensor warning systems for its new Sukhoi fighter aircraft.The first and second phases of the order are valued at over US$20-million, or R134-million, with the first phase starting immediately.According to ThisDay, Grintek subsidiary Grintek Aviation Systems will also be supplying and installing instrument landing equipment to a civilian airport in Malaysia.The two deals follow numerous negotiations between the two countries, helped by President Thabo Mbeki’s visit to Malaysia last year.New aircraft purchases ‘have already paid for themselves’ThisDay also reported recently that South Africa’s multi-billion-dollar purchases of jet fighters and trainer aircraft from BAE Systems have already paid for themselves through offset investments in the manufacturing sector and export sales.BAE says it expects to achieve a R14.8-billion milestone in investments, exports and sales in 2004. “We have undertaken to deliver a significant economic benefit to the country”, BAE executive director Bernard Collier told ThisDay. “What we’ve done now is, instead of words, we’ve proven it with action.”The aerospace industry has proved a difficult nut to crack for newcomers – even when they’ve had the financial clout.Avmin’s Rick Menell says it has been looking for projects for the past six years to add value to minerals before they are exported. He told Business Day that the value of the nickel-based alloys could be multiplied by a factor of seven following the new investment.Menell added, however, that the market is “closed”, with accreditation very hard to achieve without a partner.Regional maintenance hubSouth Africa is increasingly becoming important as a regional hub for maintenance repair organisations serving operators flying in sub-Saharan Africa.During 2000-2005, capital expenditure by the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), a state-owned corporation and the largest airport operator in South Africa, is projected to be US$234-million.Several commercially run regional airports, some of which have international status, are sources for airport projects. Many local airport developers are also looking to fund the upgrading of existing smaller airports, and to turn them into more competitive international reporterlast_img read more

Server error thwarts filling of online loan waiver forms

first_imgPoor internet connectivity and server problems at government e-service centres have made it difficult for farmers to register for the loan waiver scheme. The government had earlier claimed that over 38.90 lakh farmers had filled farm loan waiver forms. Around 89 lakh farmers are eligible for the loan waiver scheme and September 15 is the deadline to submit the forms.Ajit Nawale, convener of the farmers’ steering committee, said, “Farmers are being forced to stand in queue for hours to just fill the form. In many e-service centres, the online registration facility is in tatters. Thumb impressions are not matching with the Aadhaar card data. Server malfunction has also made the process time-consuming.”Cooperation Minister Subhash Deshmukh said the errors at e-centers would be tackled and farmers would start receiving money in their accounts from October 1. Kalidas Aapet of Shetkari Sanghatana said, “The government has all the details of farmers who require the loan. This whole exercise of filling forms is unnecessary. It is possible to transfer the amount directly. Only 500 of the 1,400 e-service centres in Beed district are functional.” Mr. Aapet also questioned the need for a ‘caste’ column in the forms.Farmers’ leaders said the procedure could only be completed if the farmer’s wife provided her thumb impression. Mr. Nawale said, “Widows whose husbands have committed suicide are helpless since they have no loan in their name. There is no clarity on this issue.”Uttam Yamgar, a farmer from Mhasurne village in Khatav tehsil, said he has been visiting the e-service centre for eight days but the server has failed recognise his thumb impression.last_img read more