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DT Daily: Huge solar plane takes flight, Tizen OS debuts, robotic velociraptor on the run

Today on DT Daily: The Solar Impulse 2 airplane, powered by the sun, takes its maiden flight. Samsung finally launches a smartphone powered by its Tizen operating system, and researchers build a robot based on a velociraptor.

A new solar-powered plane has taken to the skies for the first time, in preparation for an historic round-the-world journey set to take place next year. It’s called the Solar Impulse 2, and it’s an updated version of the solar plane which set various world records last year. The plane is even bigger than before, with a wingspan that’s wider than a 747, but it only weighs about as much as a family car, thanks to materials like carbon fiber.

The wings are home to 17,000 solar cells, which power a host of lithium batteries. During this first flight, the Solar Impulse 2 cruised over Switzerland for two hours, powered only by the sun. Although the Impulse 2 is paving the way for solar-powered commercial flights, it isn’t ready to take you on your vacation just yet. The first mission is a non-stop round the world flight, which will take the two pilots flying in shifts, and should take five days to complete.

Samsung has finally launched its first Tizen-powered smartphone, and it’s been a long time coming. Not heard of Tizen? The software is a collaboration between Samsung and Intel, and on mobile devices, it’s designed to compete with Android in certain markets. It recently made its debut on Samsung’s wearable gadgets, including the Gear 2 smartwatch.

The phone is called the Samsung Z, and it has a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED screen, a 2.3GHz quad-core processor, an 8-megapixel camera, and 4G LTE connectivity. We’re expecting to hear how much it’ll cost during a Tizen developer conference this week, but we do know Samsung intends for the Z to make its debut in Russia over the summer.

We’ve all been haunted by nightmares of the uncanny Boston Dynamics robots chasing us down and now, researchers from Korea’s Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have come up with a new robot that’s based, not on a cute, fluffy bunny, but a velociraptor. Yep, Jurassic Park’s least friendly inhabitant is back, in robot form, and it’s capable of running much faster than any human.

It’s called the Raptor, of course, and thanks to “blade” legs similar to those given to amputees, and a clever active tail stabilizer, it can reach a top speed of 28.5mph. That’s fast enough to beat Olympic super-runner Usain Bolt, so us regular people have got no hope of getting away. As the video proves, throwing pink blocks in its general direction won’t slow it down either.

At the moment, the Raptor needs to be attached to a support system to function, but the team is working on making it stable enough to run without it. Provided teeth and claws aren’t next on the list, we should be OK… but they probably are.

Your host today is Greg Nibler.