Team studies drone strikes on airplanes by firing them into a wall at 500 MPH

Bird strikes are a very real danger to planes in flight, and consequently aircraft are required to undergo bird strike testing — but what about drones? With UAV interference at airports on the rise, drone strike testing may soon be likewise mandatory, and if it’s anything like what these German researchers are doing, it’ll involve shooting the craft out of air cannons at high speed.

The work being done at Fraunhofer EMI in Freiburg is meant to establish some basic parameters for how these things ought to be tested.

Bird strikes, for example, are tested by firing a frozen poultry bird like a chicken or turkey out of an air cannon. It’s not pretty, but it has to be done. Even so, it’s not a very good analogue to a drone strike.

“From a mechanical point of view, drones behave differently to birds and also weigh considerably more. It is therefore uncertain, whether an aircraft that has been successfully tested against bird strike, would also survive a collision with a drone,” explained Fraunhofer’s Sebastian Schopferer in a news release.

The team chose to load an air cannon up with drone batteries and engines, since those make up most of any given UAV’s mass. The propellers and arms on which they’re mounted are generally pretty light and will break easily — compared with a battery weighing the better part of a kilogram, they won’t add much to the damage.

drone testing

The remains of a drone engine and battery after being propelled into the plate on the left at hundreds of miles per hour.

The drones were fired at speeds from 250 to 570 miles per hour (115 to 255 meters per second by their measurement) at aluminum plates of up to 8 millimeters of thickness. Unsurprisingly, there was “substantial deformation” of the plates and the wingless drones were “completely destroyed.” Said destruction was recorded by a high-speed camera, though unfortunately the footage was not made available.

It’s necessary to do a variety of tests to determine what’s practical and what’s unnecessary or irrelevant — why spend the extra time and money firing the drones at 570 when 500 does the same level of damage? Does including the arms and propellers make a difference? At what speed is the plate in danger of being pierced, necessitating additional protective measures? And so on. A new rig is being constructed that will allow acceleration (and deceleration) of larger UAVs.

With enough testing the team hopes that not only could such things be standardized, but simulations could be built that would allow engineers to virtually test different surfaces or materials without a costly and explosive test rig.

Gadgets – TechCrunch

Native Union’s new speaker strikes directly at my weakness for tasteful brass accents

Bluetooth and smart speakers are a dime a dozen these days, and many of them aren’t bad — so what it often comes down to is style. Native Union has my number with its latest device, which accentuates the classic bookcase speaker look with a tech-heavy back end and brass volume knob.

It’s a collaboration with French audio outfit La Boite Concept (roughly, “concept box”), which presumably did the sound-specific portions of the speaker — that is to say, the speaker — while Native Union brought its understated design chops to the bargain.

My iPhone SE proudly wore a Native Union case for a year or so in handsome cherry and brass, though the plastic parts eventually broke down. This looks to be rather a more solid construction, but the design notes are the same: a focus on natural materials with slashes of metal.

Inside is the amplifier and guts, of course, and in back a drawer hides the many inputs: two 3.5mm jacks, two USB, one USB-C. I’m not sure how many of those you’ll end up using simultaneously, but it’s always nice to have options. Plus Bluetooth, of course.

Right now the speaker isn’t quite listed on Native Union’s site — it’s that fresh. Acquire apparently scooped the maker of the thing. I’ve asked for more details, and I’m sure it’ll be online soon. I know it’s coming because there’s a “speakers” nav on their site:

It’s a hell of a good looking thing, but you know it comes at a price — $ 799. Yes, and you’ll have to buy it at MOMA stores in New York. Really, now. Maybe I’ll wait for a sale.

Gadgets – TechCrunch

Defakto’s Vektor strikes a great balance as a minimalist, slim automatic watch

 Defakto is a small German watchmaker that has made a name for itself over the years thanks to the unique, but classic designs it boasts thanks to mark founder Raphael Ickler. The latest watch from Ickler and Defakto, the Vektor, continues this tradition of smart, minimalist looks, but adds a very slim case thanks to use of a Miyota 9015 automatic Japanese movement, and brings some extra… Read More

Gadgets – TechCrunch

Apple strikes a deal with MLB to put iPads in dugouts

14387649210_0da6a0fa03_k The MLB is taking a page from the NFL’s playbook and equipping teams with tablets to use during games for the 2016 season. But, instead of Microsoft Surface Tablets, the MLB has made a deal with Apple to provide all 30 MLB teams with iPad Pros to use. The iPads will give coaches the ability to get historical game statistics, pull up video from previous games, and even simulate… Read More

Gadgets – TechCrunch