Hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye aircraft demonstrated, will one day fly four-day continuous missions

Boeing Phantom EyeBoeing’s Phantom Eye unmanned aircraft has completed its maiden flight, which lasted just under half-an-hour and followed a series of initial tests performed in April, and as it’s powered by hydrogen, nothing more harmful than water was emitted during the test.

The Phantom Eye is just one of Boeing’s unmanned airborne systems, or UAS, and is designed to carry out surveillance and intelligence missions. The longer such aircraft can stay in the air, the better, hence the long-range hydrogen propulsion system.

Once the Phantom Eye is operational, Boeing expects it to fly missions lasting up to four days without needing to land, all the while carrying 450-pounds of equipment. As you can see from the picture it’s not a small aircraft, and boasts a wingspan of 150-feet, which is larger than many medium-range passenger jets.

The test flight took place at Edwards Air Base in California on June 1, and the Phantom Eye stayed airborne for 28-minutes, reaching an altitude of 4,080-feet and a speed of 62-knots. In the future, the plane will have a maximum cruising altitude of 65,000-feet.

Of course, keeping an aircraft in continuous use for four days means it needs not only to be very reliable, but also require the minimum of maintenance. When the Phantom Eye was unveiled in 2010, Boeing revealed it would use two 150-horsepower, Ford 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engines, much like those found in Ford’s road cars, just converted for use with hydrogen. Tests of these engines in altitude chambers showed complete reliability for 600 hours, six times that needed for a four-day mission.

Previous Phantom Eye tests have required the plane to be fueled with 1900-pounds of cryogenic hydrogen, a process which takes 12-hours, including priming the fuel system ready for flight. Hydrogen has long been seen as an alternative fuel source for cars, and projects like this help push the technology forward.

Sadly, the Phantom Eye had a bumpy touchdown, as the landing gear dug into the ground and broke, but despite this set back plans are moving forward for the next test flight, where the plane will reach higher altitudes than this week’s early shakedown.

Deals

This one-day Skullcandy sale gets you wireless earbuds for under $30

Today only, you can save 40 percent on wireless earbuds, noise-canceling headphones, and classic earbuds direct from the Skullcandy website. If you're hoping to get a pair of headphones before the holidays arrive, now is the time.
Social Media

This event topped Facebook’s biggest moments of the year — again

As the year comes to a close, Facebook is looking back on what users discussed most over the last year. For two years in a row, International Women's Day topped the list. So what else is on the list?
Computing

Amazon’s Deal of the Day takes up to $700 off Dell’s refurbished XPS 13, XPS 15

Shoppers looking to score a deal on Dell's XPS 13 and XPS 15 laptops could find some significant savings on Amazon. As part of Amazon's Deal of the Day, Dell's certified refurbished notebooks are discounted by as much as $700.
Emerging Tech

Scoot your commute! Here are the 9 best electric scooters on the market

Electric scooters are an affordable, convenient way to minimize your carbon footprint and zip around town. Check out 8 of our current favorites, whether you're working with a budget or have some cash to spare.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Emerging Tech

Hear the sounds of wind on Mars from InSight’s latest audio recording

NASA's InSight craft has captured the sound of the wind blowing on the surface of Mars. The audio file was picked up by the air pressure sensor and the seismometer which detected vibrations from the 10 to 15 mph winds in the area.
Features

Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

New experiment casts doubt on claims to have identified dark matter

A South Korean experiment called COSINE-100 has attempted to replicate the claims of dark matter observed by the Italian DAMA/LIBRA experiment, but has failed to replicate the observations.
Emerging Tech

White dwarf star unexpectedly emitting bright ‘supersoft’ X-rays

NASA's Chandra Observatory has discovered a white dwarf star which is emitting supersoft X-rays, calling into question the conventional wisdom about how X-rays are produced by dying stars.
Business

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Emerging Tech

Full-fledged drone delivery service set to land in remote Canadian community

Some drone delivery operations seem rather crude in their execution, but Drone Delivery Canada is building a comprehensive platform that's aiming to take drone delivery to the next level.
Emerging Tech

It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

Within just a year, electric scooters have fundamentally changed how we navigate cities. From San Francisco to Paris, commuters have a new option that’s more fun than mass transit, easier than a bike, and definitely not a car.
Emerging Tech

Intel wants its fleet of drones to monitor America’s aging, unsafe bridges

Intel has signed a deal to use its Falcon 8+ drones to carry out bridge inspections. The hope is that these drones will be useful in spotting potential problems before they become serious.